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Departmental Events Policy



We explicitly promote an inclusive, tolerant, and non-confrontational environment in our department, including all events and seminars (workshops, conferences, regular staff and PhD seminars). By fostering a polite, unpretentious, reasonable seminar culture we hope to reduce stereotype threat and inspire justifiable levels of philosophical confidence among a diverse range of speakers and participants. In order to make philosophy a more diverse and equal field, please help us uphold the following conventions.

Conventions for presentations, chairing, and questions

We aim for events and seminars to be venues in which ideas can be explored in a spirit of inclusion and tolerance. We’d like everyone to behave politely and respectfully towards speakers and other participants. When in doubt, please defer to whoever is chairing or ask the chair or organisers.

*                     Our departmental events will, where possible, follow the BPA-SWIP guidance on inclusivity for women in philosophy and on accessibility for disabled participants. Accessibility information will be included in calls for papers for departmental events.

*                     For sessions of 45 minutes or more, chairs will institute a 3-5 minute break between presentations and questions, to allow participants to think through questions, talk them through with colleagues, or look something up.

*                     Chairs are free to take questions in whichever order they see fit. Since less confident people tend to sit at the back, chairs may choose to take questions from the back of the room first.

*                     Chairs are free to verbally stipulate conventions for the papers they chair, such as the hand/finger rule for questions vs. follow-ups, limits on number of questions or follow-ups per person, calling on PhD students first, or calling on visitors first.

Preventing and addressing harassment

It is very important to us that no one is harassed at departmental events. If you are the victim of harassment or a witness to harassment (such as sexual harassment, unwanted physical contact, or offensive or unwelcome comments about race, ethnicity, gender and gender identity, class, sexual orientation or disability), we will listen to you and take you seriously. Please do not feel afraid to come forward and talk to us about what you have experienced and what you would like us to do to help.

*                 Departmental events will in general have a designated equality and diversity representative. Harassment and other matters of equality and diversity, such as accessibility issues, may always be reported to them, in addition to the organisers themselves. Organisers should introduce this person at the start of each event.

*                 When in doubt you may always report any harassment to the departmental equality and diversity officer, Dr Frederique Janssen-Lauret (

*                 We will support the victim and take action to address the harassment, usually by either asking the harasser to stop and making sure that they comply, by asking them to leave, or, in severe cases, by banning them from campus.

Explicit language and imagery

Some philosophy papers discuss potentially traumatic material such as sexual assault, violence, slurs and pejoratives, sexism, racism, other forms of structural inequality. We want to balance encouraging the academic freedom to research and discuss such topics, which is often necessary for progress, with the needs of victims of such violence and injustice in the audience. Explicit language and imagery are sometimes necessary to make a point, but please use them judiciously. Be aware that people in your audience may have been traumatised by racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic, or sexual abuse or assault.

*                     When you discuss potentially traumatic topics, language, or imagery, please make this clear in the title of your paper, in your abstract, or at the start of your presentation. This allows audience members to make an informed choice about being involved, and to prepare themselves if they need to.

*                     If your paper is not primarily about potentially traumatic material, but some of your examples may be, where possible choose examples which are not likely to make people relive trauma. For example, consider whether it is necessary to use sexual assault as an example of a morally bad act, to use racial slurs as examples of pejorative language, or to quote graphic language. Where explicit or offensive examples are essential to your paper, by all means discuss them. But, as above, please make clear from the start that your paper contains such material.

*                     If you need examples of pejoratives, slurs or derogatory language, consider whether it makes sense to use examples which might be applied to you. This may help you gauge their potential force and effect on an audience.