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Research and engagement

While race is an organising category of analysis in the Stephen Lawrence Research Centre’s (SLRC) work on power, inequality and injustice, the centre aims to explore race and racism in relation to other power dynamics affecting privilege and disadvantage including, gender, ethnicity, nationality, citizenship status, employment status, sexual orientation, health status, age, location, access to resources and more.  

Moving forward, the SLRC hopes to facilitate opportunities for interdisciplinary approaches that invite colleagues in different disciplines which are not typically in conversation with the centre’s work to build collaborative research agendas around pressing issues with real-world relevance. 

Current research projects

Textures of Blackness in the Midlands: Excavating Regional Archives of Black Culture and Politics

With funding secured from the prestigious AHRC Midlands4Cities Doctoral Training Partnerhip,  this PhD studentship supports work within local communities in collaboration with Serendipity, a Leicester-based cultural arts organisation to develop a wider archival terrain for understanding Black life in the Midlands.

In a post-Brexit landscape, and in a particular moment when our understanding of Black British history lends much to deciphering current debates about the status of the so-called ‘Windrush’ generation and the history of racialisation, this project aims to unearth, explore and think innovatively about the co-production of archives designed to map, reflect and (re)present histories of Black cultural and political life throughout the East Midlands.

midlands4cities and serendipity logos

Preserving the History of Leicester’s African Caribbean Communities

In collaboration with DMU Special Collections, DMU Local and Leicester’s African Caribbean Centre, the SLRC is providing DMU student volunteers with an opportunity to help preserve the histories of Leicester’s African Caribbean communities.

Through the project, students are learning how to organise, package and describe photographs and materials from the past 50 years, providing them with the skills needed to create an archive for the community and researchers. In year one (2019-2020), 14 students participated in the 11-week project that will eventually contribute to the development of a future exhibition and community archive.


Students learning how to create a community archive on the Preserving the History of Leicester’s African Caribbean Project

Carnival vibes in the city!

Leicester's Caribbean Carnival is believed to be the largest in the Midlands. However, it is often overlooked within the wider histories of Caribbean Carnivals in the UK. Leading on from the Leicester African Caribbean Archive Project, ‘Carnival Vibes in the City!’ will tell the stories of the carnival’s origins and its contributions to the 'good vibes' of Leicester's multicultural heritage. 

This intergenerational project which will document the history and culture of Leicester's Caribbean Carnival, a specific cultural landmark in the history of Caribbean communities in Leicester.  The project will bring together young people from Leicester’s YMCA, DMU, students, SLRC, colleagues from DMU Special Collections, and DMU Local. We will work with local community elders and develop archival materials, oral histories, social media and an exhibition to showcase this annual celebration of Caribbean culture in the city.

SLRC has passed the first round of bidding for Y-Heritage Funding for this project but the process was put on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We will submit to the second round of bidding in February 2021.

Race and Social Justice in Leicester

The Other Track and Trace: Mitigating the Effects of Covid-19 on Pre-Existing Disparities in Education in Leicester

This DMU Local+ funded project aims to examine the effect that the Covid-19 pandemic has had on the education of secondary school students in Leicester. The project aims to:

  • Measure the impact of the COVID-19 response within Leicester’s secondary education landscape
  • Track various interventions that have been made to address public health concerns such as shifts to virtual learning, social distancing measures, reduced lunch provisions, school closures, etc
  • Trace the effects on the above interventions to teaching, learning and academic attainment
  • Make recommendations to Leicester City Council in regard to mitigating the effects of COVID-19 that can inform broader strategies of addressing pre-existing inequalities in education, particularly as it relates to attainment


Teaching to Transform:  Building Anti-Racist Learning Communities in Leicester Through Teacher Education

Teaching to Transform takes up elements of the unfinished agenda of the Macpherson Report’s recommendation to combat the “failure of the National Curriculum to adequately reflect the needs of a diverse, multi-cultural and multi-ethnic society (Macpherson, 1999).” 

The project intends to provide an opportunity for the SLRC to contribute to DMU’s wider public engagement agenda in influencing anti-racist, social-justice oriented pedagogic practice in Leicester. a city well known for its racial and ethnic diversity. 

The four key elements of the project:

  • Inreach - Utilising our space for teaching and learning in relation to our research target areas
  • Outreach - Engaging in external teaching and learning spaces in relation to our research target areas
  • How to be an anti-racist educator - Working with educators to develop racial literacies and social justice-oriented pedagogies
  • Research, Knowledge Exchange and Impact Case Studies - Building research frameworks around our work in schools and with educators to co-produce, collect data, monitor and evaluate various interventions and demonstrating impact

Our Teaching to Transform school engagement programme 2019/20

Since February 2019, we have partnered with a number of local schools and educators on a variety of inreach and outreach initiatives to support and enhance current teaching practices and to encourage positive conversations around race, inclusion and social justice to take place in the classroom.

A quick look at some of these engagements:

Classroom takeovers or assemblies 

School visits where the SLRC would deliver an assembly or classroom session to give students the opportunity to explore a number of avenues around race, identity, citizenship and relationships. Visits can be scheduled at suitable times throughout the academic year. 

Stephen Lawrence Day at DMU experience 2019

A day-long programme to commemorate the annual National Stephen Lawrence Day (22 April), themed “Live Your Best Lives” that gave students an opportunity to learn more about Stephen Lawrence’s story, interact with some of the materials from the Stephen Lawrence Archive and think creatively about how Stephen’s story inspires them to become agents of social change. 

Bespoke school visits to the centre 

Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, we welcomed class visits from schools to the centre, to visit the exhibition space and to learn about the work that we do to continue Stephen’s powerful legacy. We worked collaboratively with the lead teacher to plan an appropriate hour-long session that fitted into their teaching agenda and curriculum. 

Local Educators Listening Sessions 

We readily engage with a consortium of local schools to plan activities that can help to transform and enhance current teaching practices to help make the curriculum more inclusive, via our Teaching to Transform programme. These schools are doing some fantastic work around race and social justice issues including creating Stephen Lawrence Ambassadors and Stephen Lawrence Awards programmes, forming Stephen Lawrence Day Committees and parliaments, creating academy-wide lesson plans and fun charity events, for example. 


Students and educators from The Lancaster School attended an SLRC bespoke session as part of Freedom Day at DMU (2019)

Teaching To Transform 2020/21

LiFE Multi-Academy Trust Professional Pathways Programme

For the 2020/21 Academic year, we have introduced a pilot project in Leicester that seeks to develop a bespoke teacher education programme that emphasises building racial literacies amongst local educators.  Moreover, the programme aims to co-create strategies and facilitate the embedding of anti-racist practice in local schools with an eye toward addressing the persistence of inequalities and injustices in the classroom, the curriculum and the wider school environment.    

Our partner in this pilot phase of the project is the LiFE Multi-Academy Trust (LiFE MAT). Working with local educators in the LiFE MAT Trust, we will co-design a teacher education offer focused on building and embedding racial literacies into the local school environment. The project is being piloted and delivered by way of a bespoke professional pathways programme for educators within the Trust.

In the long-term the project intends to produce a practice-driven evidence base that will amplify calls for educational policy reform and investment in teacher education.

See an outline of the Teaching To Transform Professional Pathways Programme.