Arts SU speakers will begin each day. They'll share their knowledge, research and announce issues of interest for the coming year. The afternoon keynotes from UAL colleagues and external speakers will explore intersections of ethics, EDI (equality, diversity and inclusion), ecology and social purpose.

We’re looking forward to welcoming you.

Monday 3 July

Yemi Gbajobi, Chief Executive, Arts Students’ Union:

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Yemi Gbajobi, Chief Executive, Arts Students’ Union (Arts SU)

Yemi will be sharing firstly the outcomes of the Arts SU Big Survey this year. Secondly she will outline the new organisational strategy and its planned impact on the student experience.

Yemi (she/her) is currently Chief Executive at Arts Students' Union, a role she has held for the last 5 1/2 years. Prior to this, she has held Chief Executive roles at LSE Students' Union and City, University London Students' Union. She has worked in the Student Union Sector for the last 18 years, starting as an Activities Officer at Brunel University followed by roles in the National Union of Students (NUS). She also currently holds roles with the Association of College Union's International (ACUI) as well as a Council Member of the Rugby Football Union (RFU).

Yemi's career has focused on developing the student experience both nationally and internationally, with a focus on student feedback, democratic models of governance, sustainable student unions, partnership working between students and institutions and supporting student leadership.

Access the slides | Watch the keynote

Comparative Ethical Perspectives on EDI (Equality, Diversity and Inclusion) and Ecology

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Dr Elvis Imafidon, Lecturer of Philosophy, Director of the Centre for Global and Comparative Philosophies, SOAS University of London.

Elvis’ keynote will outline Comparative Ethical Perspectives on EDI (Equality, Diversity and Inclusion) and Ecology showing how social and racial justice invariably implies paying close attention to non-Western ethical models of EDI. With specific reference to the overarching sub-Saharan African philosophy of relationality aptly captured in the concept of Ubuntu, Elvis will demonstrate the importance and benefits of a comparative ethical perspective on EDI specifically for racially just pedagogy and ecojustice.

Dr Elvis Imafidon is Lecturer of Philosophy and the Director of the Centre for Global and Comparative Philosophies at the School of History, Religions and Philosophies, SOAS University of London. He is Fellow of the Johannesburg Institute of Advanced Study (JIAS). He specializes in comparative philosophy in the African and Western (Continental) traditions and his research interests include African ontology, epistemology and ethics, philosophy of difference, philosophy of medicine and healthcare, philosophy of disability and philosophy of corporeality. He is the author of the books: The Question of the Rationality of African Traditional Thought: An Introduction (2013), African Philosophy and the Otherness of Albinism (2019), and he is editor of several book including Ontologized Ethics: New Essays in African Meta-ethics (2014), The Ethics of Subjectivity: Perspectives since the Dawn of Modernity (2015), and Handbook of African Philosophy of Difference (2020). He has also published several articles in learned journals including Polylog, Cultura, Nursing Philosophy, and International Journal of Critical Diversity Studies.

Access the slides | Watch the keynote

Tuesday 4 July

In discussion:

Martin Dodd (Head of Policy, Representation, & Advocacy, Arts SU)

Helena Schofield (Representation and Democracy Manager, Arts SU)

Calum Sherwood (Senior Research and Policy Officer, Arts SU)

This session will cover the launch of the Arts SU planned student voice research.

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Martin Dodd (Head of Policy, Representation, & Advocacy, Arts SU)

Martin (he/him) is currently Deputy Chief Executive at Arts Students' Union, having joined the organisation just under two years ago. Prior to this he has held various senior roles in the Students' Union sector for the past 15 years in the North West of England and Wales. He is also a trustee for a Welsh branch of the mental health charity Mind in his spare time. Martin's current and previous roles focuses on student engagement including academic representation, student democracy and governance, advice, policy, research, volunteering. campaigns and community organising.

Photo of Helena Schofield
Helena Schofield (Representation and Democracy Manager, Arts SU)

Helena (she/her) is the current Representation & Democracy Manager at Arts Students' Union, having joined the organisation just under a year ago. Prior to this she held roles in various Representation teams across London Students' Unions, after having completed a year as a sabbatical officer at the University of Portsmouth, where she studied BA(Hons) International Relations & Politics. Helena's current and previous roles have focussed on academic and non-academic representation, student democracy, policy, and student-led campaigns.

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Calum Sherwood (Senior Research and Policy Officer, Arts SU)

Calum Sherwood is the Senior Policy and Research Officer at Arts Students' Union. Calum has previously worked as a social researcher for the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Ravensbourne University London, the National Union of Students, and the London School of Economics Students' Union.

His research interests lie in cultural and education policy; primarily, the application of social research to the evaluation of arts outreach, the intersections of economic class and cultural capital in education, and the sociology of art and cultural consumption.

Watch the keynote

In conversation:

Polly Mackenzie and Francesca Panetta

Polly and Francesca will introduce themselves, their work and discuss their priorities within the broad theme of social purpose. Insights from a social purpose consultation phase and the Storytelling Institute plan will be featured.

In the context of the UAL strategy, social purpose can be seen in terms of issues arising from our motivations for change across the organisation, as well as a pragmatic approach to education creating impact in the wider world.

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Polly Mackenzie (Chief Social Purpose Officer, UAL)

Polly joined UAL in July 2022. Prior to joining the University she was Chief Executive of Demos, the UK’s leading social value think tank, bringing citizen voice and lived experience into public policy discussions.

Polly's previous roles include founding CEO of the Money & Mental Health Policy Institute, founding CEO of the Women’s Equality Party, and Policy Director to the Deputy Prime Minister from 2010 to 2015.

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Francesca Panetta (Director, AKO Storytelling Institute, UAL)

Francesca is Director of UAL’s AKO Storytelling Institute and an Emmy award-winning artist, using emerging technologies to innovate new forms of storytelling that have social impact. Francesca is formerly a Creative Director at the MIT Center for Advanced Virtuality and an Executive Editor, Virtual Reality at the Guardian.