By ‘EDI’ I am referring to Equity, Diversity and Inclusivity. Like ‘BAME’, ‘Asian’, ‘neurodiversity‘ etc, it is a problematic term (not least because it became ‘on trend’ circa summer 2020, as if justice and human rights didn’t matter before). Still – and hence – it is important to engage with the term and to work with other colleagues to clarify how things can be. This page is a summary of some of my efforts to advance conversations and actions around anti-racism and Black Lives Matter in collaboration with the humble role-model Professor Ola Uduku (University of Liverpool Head of Architecture) in Manchester and the Northwest region and beyond. Research Assistants Dr Stefanie El Madawi and Erica Conchis were and are key in assisting me in this body of work. For other EDI efforts including the Common Room, see here.


In August 2020, I co-curated the 75th Anniversary Celebrations of the 5th Pan African Congress (PAC@75) with Professor Ola Uduku. PAC@75 celebrated the impact of Manchester on global history in nationhood, leadership, and Black Lives Matter. The idea to celebrate the Congress was first conceived by Prof. Uduku with Dr Shirin Hirsch and Dr Marie Molloy. A contribution I made was the recommendation and creation of a theme to synthesise the range of proposed activities by the Manchester Poetry Library, Ahmed Iqbal Ullah Race Centre, Big Music People and others, into a single coherent festival. The successful attainment of a Global Challenges Research Fund, drafts of which I reviewed and provided feedback for, sealed Manchester Met’s leadership for the 11 regional cultural and academic collaborators. Guided by the Faculty’s PVC, DPVC and RKE Head, I worked with the University’s Marketing and the Faculty’s technical team and, in October 2020, I oversaw the delivery of four days of creative seminars, performances, and workshops online. PAC@75 successfully advanced Manchester Met’s standing as a regional leader for Black History Month and Equity Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI). Prof. Uduku praised my efforts, stating ‘I can confirm that your dedication to work is most amazing and, with the support that MMU has been able to give, it has been central to our delivery of the successful PAC@75 programme’. The educational (plus research and citizenship) impacts of PAC@75 are exponential and lasting, helping to bridge the gap between Manchester Met’s internationalisation, race equality, and EDI aspirations and their realisation – agendas I continue to drive. Highlights include:

  • PAC@75 reached 18.2 million people worldwide, and saved Manchester Met £168,000 in advertising (equivalent advertising value/EAV, Dominic Smith, Press & Comms): I invited global majority students and alumni to design visual assets, which were proudly used to advertise PAC@75. Students were also given the unique opportunity to be leaders, chairing sessions featuring Afua Hirsch, Princeton Professor Kwame Anthony Appiah, poet Carol Ann Duffy DBE and more, and were featured on an hour-long BBC Radio 4 programme devoted to the themes of our celebrations. Other outputs include bespoke webpages and a YouTube channel (2000 views in the first week). The Faculty donated Appiah’s fee of £500 to the Du Bois Foundation in Ghana, further broadening Manchester Met’s global reach
  • PAC@75 outputs are still used by Universities in Edinburgh and even Africa to decolonise their curricula and research. Irene Appeaning Addo from the Institute of African Studies at the University of Ghana stated: ‘I was particularly excited to see Ghanaian students, specifically and African (Diaspora) and students generally, participating actively in the event and celebrating their ancestors and promoting “blackness” […]. The resources would be particularly useful for my teaching and especially for its historic contents and great Pan African thinkers’.
  • I worked with Manchester Met’s Legal team to co-ordinate the production of a formal, streamlined consent form for Manchester Met and the Universities of Manchester and Salford for the ongoing use of resources in pedagogy and research, to support future tri-institutional collaboration
  • I wrote up findings from PAC@75 into two academic articles, one of which conceptualises an anti-racist pedagogical toolkit: ‘Towards an Anti-Racist Fine Art PhD: “Anti-Racism Productive Antagonisms (ARPA)” for the Supervisor, Student, Examiner’ published in Art, Design & Communication in Higher Education (Tan 2021), and cited as exemplary by the Association for Art History and the Clore Leadership programme. My proposed method was also applied in a workshop she delivered for the board of a music group comprising senior managers from the Royal Northern College of Music and BBC Philharmonic Orchestra;
  • This anti-racism pedagogy attracted a new PhD student, the critically acclaimed composer Daniel Kidane (BBC Proms 2019). I am Principal Supervisor for his thesis The Sound of Decolonisation, and the supervisory team are staff from RNCM and the National Archives.
  • 2022: Dr Jade Munslow Ong (Salford) and Dr Shirin Hirsch (ManchesterMet), both PAC@75 and REAP key collaborators, have been named BBC/AHRC New Generation Thinkers 2022. Listen to Free Thinking on BBC Radio 3 on BBC Sounds or Arts & Ideas podcast for details. 
  • I was nominated for the Manchester Met Equality Award in both 2021 and 2022 for my efforts in PAC@75 and REAP by Becky Swain, Director of Manchester Poetry Library and key collaborator for both PAC@75 and REAP, says the following in her 2022 nomination statement:

I want to nominate Kai Syng Tan for her individual and dedicated practice at Manchester Met to champion diversity and work to develop an inclusive campus. Kai has initiated and undertaken action through the Race Equality Activity Planning (REAP) Group that has promoted diversity, equality and inclusion for staff snd students across the university. This has included through her own research practice, but also dedication to anti – racist practice – including dedicated work leading colleagues in coordinating many of the A&H faculty activities centring on the 75th anniversary of the Pan African Congress and tirelessly advocating for resources to support key EDI work. Kai has advocated for cultural leadership programmes,  and even setting up a book group that has regularly brought together colleagues to discuss a wide range of fiction, poetry and non fiction that focuses on BAME authors and experiences of racism.

BEcky SWAIN 2022


PAC@75’s success led to the co-founding of the Race Equality Action Planning group (REAP) with Prof. Uduku and E&D Specialist Mona Patel, which I still lead. This is a 59-member cross-institutional alliance in the NorthWest, including Manchester Poetry Library, Ripples of Hope Festival and, since late 2021, with Prof. Uduku’s move, University of Liverpool. REAP seeks to catalyse, collate, produce, and disseminate cultural and creative activities to advance conversations and actions on anti-racism in the region.

REAP activities for 2021 included a public seminar with Sociology’s Dr Patrick Williams on policing of minoritised people, and interventions on Instagram led by alumna Rudi May Hart as response to anti-Asian hate. A particular highlight for REAP was a collaboration with University of Salford’s Documentary MA, where Prof. Uduku and I, along with historian Dr Jade Munslow Ong of Salford, mentored four students who proposed, researched and produced a 20-minute film The Pan-African Congress: 1945 and Today. As part of Black History Month 2021, I curated the launch event at Manchester Poetry Library, and worked with RISE to make this a credit-bearing unit. The event received positive feedback from Manchester Met’s DFPVC Prof. Abigail Gregory and Provost and DVC Prof. Steve Decent, who gave the opening address: ‘Excellent event – thank you for inviting me. I really enjoyed that. The film and discussion were wonderful. Delighted to see this as part of REAP and Black History Month 2021’. Materials are now included as learning resources on the University of Manchester’s MA History programme ‘Remaking Modern British History’ (30 credits and 15-credit option).

The inclusive approaches, how REAP and PAC@75 have modelled new EDI-centred possibilities of leadership, and ongoing teaching/learning impacts pre-empt the ethos of the new Civic University Agreement that Manchester Met signed, and act as a powerful conduit for us to think about Manchester Met’s strategic goals around EDI and community in our Road to 2030. It has developed lasting cultural, pedagogical and research materials, approaches, communities, networks, and structures.


Top: REAP logo featuring artwork We Stan’ by artist Aislinn Finnegan, designed by Erika Conchis. Middle: Diagram illustrating the genesis of PAC@75 and REAP.