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Welsh diversity champion and Nation.Cymru columnist awarded honorary doctorate

24 Oct 2023 2 minute read
Norena Shopland

The Open University has awarded an honorary doctorate to Welsh diversity champion and Nation.Cymru columnist Norena Shopland.

Ms Shopland was given the honour in recognition of her work on raising awareness of diversity in Welsh history, particularly in relation to sexual orientation and gender identity.

Since 1973 the Open University has awarded only 1,100 honorary degrees of which 820 have been doctorates, awarded to people whose achievements have had an impact nationally or internationally, and who are widely recognised by others working in the same field.


Ms Shopland has been on Wales’ list of most influential LGBTQ+ people, the Pinc List, from 2019 to 2023, and in 2024 she will be publishing LGBTQ+ timelines for every county in Wales, the only country to do this.

She was commissioned by the Welsh Government to deliver LGBTQ+ training to local libraries, museums and archives throughout Wales, the only government in the world to provide this kind of training.

Fifty years after the first OU degree ceremony was held at London’s Alexandra Palace, Ms Shopland was given the award in front of 600 students at the International Convention Centre (ICC) in Newport.

In her speech, she said: ‘Support from others is vital in both our personal and professional lives. But there are those who are omitted from society and from society’s history, those hidden and forbidden people often for no other reason such as their sexuality, gender identity, the colour of their skin, disability, or other.

“We, these diverse people have often been left out of the mainstream historical narrative, and today while LGBTQ+ history in Wales is starting to gain ground, others such as minority ethnic history still have a long way to go. And there is no history of disability in Wales, among others.’

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