1.4  DEPARTMENT MISSION STATEMENT

The Department of English aims to:
• Expand its international research and teaching reputation as a leading Department of English with programmes in English and Film, and with strong interdisciplinary staff and programmes.
• Maintain a challenging level of scholarly and critical debate through staff members’ active engagement in high-quality research
• Promote student learning by offering a wide range of teaching programmes at undergraduate and graduate level, with broad historical coverage, content and methodology
• Introduce students to the most recent debates and concerns within interdisciplinary programmes
• Train students to consider themselves active rather than passive learners
• Train students to read and think critically and to express themselves, in order to ensure them the best employment and development opportunities
• Help students to develop skills that will enable them to play active and creative roles in society and future careers
• Ensure students are equipped with relevant key skills to give them the best employment and development opportunities
• Achieve and retain as broad an intake as possible of high-quality students from all ethnic and racial groups, nationalities and age groups
• Fulfil our regional role and responsibilities by recruiting students from the South West region and making links with the local and regional community.
• Develop a large body of international and part-time students, and nurture existing and future North American university partnerships

 
1.4.1 Cultural Awareness

The Department of English at Exeter actively promotes respect for diversity in the classroom and working environment. We encourage and warmly welcome applications to our undergraduate and postgraduate programmes from UK minorities and the international community of students and researchers. We aim to foreground positive cultural awareness in our teaching and research activities, and believe that the best intellectual communities are comprised of a rich diversity of cultural and social perspectives. The Department's teaching ethos is rooted in informed, reasonable conversation between cultural equals. We encourage respect for difference, and promote innovative approaches to traditional questions and objects of study. We would ask all students, staff and visitors to consider their language and actions in the light of these principles.


1.4.2 Ethical and legal aspects of research in English and Film Copyright

All publications arising out of research must obey copyright law. A summary of this law, including what constitutes ‘fair use’ of citations (and so exempts one from the need to seek permission), can be found under ‘Quick Guide to Permissions’, at the Society for Authors website:
http://www.societyofauthors.net/
Intellectual copyright, particularly in relation to audio or digital recording or reproduction of lectures/music, is a complex issue. If you have questions about this, contact the English Subject Librarian in the main library.
Although MA and PhD dissertations do not count as publications, using material from these works elsewhere may do so.

1.4.3 Ethical conduct

University procedures for dealing with ethical issues are to be found at http://www.exeter.ac.uk/research/toolkit/throughout/ethics/ .  The following is informal advice to staff and students in the event that their research raises an ethical issue.

Ethical and legal issues occasionally arise in literary and cultural disciplines, particularly in practice-based research and creative, life-writing, or filmmaking projects where you may be dealing with living subjects, or archives which are still owned by the subject, or the subject’s family or friends.  A duty of confidentiality exists between a researcher and the subject so that confidential information revealed to a researcher can only be disclosed to others if the party providing the information has given written authorisation.

Key areas of concern are:
- protecting privacy when drawing on personal data, in whatever form or medium it may exist
- negotiating and respecting copyright of published and unpublished texts/materials
- establishing respectful relationships between researcher and subject in general, in the process as well as outcome of the research.

The University’s as well as the Department’s and the individual’s reputations are implicated in the way that research is conducted, and there are legal as well as moral aspects to pursuing ethically sound research. The Department therefore requires both staff and students to seek advice if they have any questions in this area.

The University’s Ethics Committee may advise on specific questions, and may indeed be required to give approval, for example in funding applications. The University also has a Data Protection Officer, who can advise on questions relating to the 1998 Data Protection Act. Students are encouraged to attend the University’s Graduate Skills programme workshop on Data Protection and Codes of Ethics.
When conducting research that raises ethical issues you may need to consider developing
- a contract between you and a research subject which protects privacy and/or allows you to use their writing/interview in unpublished research
- a letter of permission to publish
- a justification of ‘fair use’ and your own role as creative interpreter, alongside an appropriate understanding of your responsibility to the subject and source of your work.

Sample contracts/letters/ethical principles for AHRC funding are available from the Ethics Officer.

Ethical Issues Arising from Research and Teaching:  For University Units
http://www.exeter.ac.uk/research/rkt/policyandgovernance/ethics/  Section 4.5


1.4.4 ‘Gender-fair’ or ‘Gender-neutral’ language

There is a move to adopt gender-neutral language in politics, academia, business and everyday life.  Often we are so familiar with established ways of speaking, that we become desensitized to the power of language and the ways it works. For example, instead of using ‘man’ (unless you mean ‘men’ specifically) use ‘humans’, ‘individuals’ or ‘people.’
Avoid phrases such as:
‘Each citizen worries about his rights’
Instead use more accurate forms of expression, such as:
‘Citizens worry about their rights’
‘Each citizen worries about his or her rights’
‘Each citizen worries about her rights’ (use both male- and female-gendered pronouns)
‘Each citizen worries about his/her rights’
‘As a citizen, one worries about one’s rights’
‘Citizens are worried about their rights’