A note from the Director
As the new academic year is upon us I thought it worth saying a few words about the timing and format of ICS seminars.
As many of you reading this will be aware, the ICS facilitates a long-running set of ‘standing’ seminar series: in Ancient Literature, Archaeology, Ancient History, Ancient Philosophy, and the Mycenaean Seminar. These are convened by academics from outside the Institute, often but not always drawn from those working across institutions that are part of the University of London federation.
Seminars have traditionally been held in the late afternoons, with 4:30 or 5pm start times. This continues to be the case for most of our seminars.
This timing is problematic for some colleagues and students, especially for those of us who have childcare or other caring responsibilities that make it difficult to be in central London in the early evening. Many other universities have moved their departmental seminars to earlier times for this reason. This is a diversity and inclusion issue.
Moving the seminar times is something the ICS is open to considering, but we have also received feedback from many colleagues that holding ICS seminars earlier in the day would make it harder for them because of the teaching, meetings and other institutional responsibilities that tend to be scheduled in their home institutions throughout the day.
Moving our seminars earlier also would mean that colleagues and students who are not based in central London would have to take more time out of their day in order to travel to the Institute in time for a seminar. They may not be able to afford to do this – perhaps especially if caring responsibilities at home mean they have to pack most of their institutional duties into core working hours. A comment made by one respondent to the survey conducted by ICS in 2019 (which produced a split between those who wanted the seminars to move earlier and those who wanted them to move later) sums up the difficulties perfectly:
‘Timing problematic for staff with families or who live outside of London. Earlier would make them even harder to balance with the hugely expanding demands of university life.’
It remains unclear how to square this circle, and my position as Director is that it is appropriate for the ICS to be guided by the wishes of the convenors of each seminar series – preferably with the input of their respective subject communities. We remain open to proposals to experiment with different timings for individual series. I am also pressing for better technology in Senate House so that we can properly facilitate hybrid events.
If anyone would like to contact me to discuss the timings of ICS seminars or to offer feedback, please do get in touch.
I also encourage anyone who wishes to be kept informed of ICS seminars and our other events and activities to join our ICS-ANNOUNCE Jiscmail list (please go to https://www.jiscmail.ac.uk/cgi-bin/webadmin?A0=ICS-ANNOUNCE to register).
21 September 2022