The Decolonising Curriculum movement has gained increasing attention in the Higher Education sector. Whilst many staff are committed to developing teaching and learning which supports this, translating policy into classroom practice can frequently present a challenge. This page outlines our approach to supporting staff in relevant decolonising activity, which is part of the University's wider commitment to supporting the needs of all learners through the design and development of its curricula. We also work closely with others across the institution who are working towards similar ends, including Bath's own Centre for Decolonising Knowledge in Teaching, Research and Practice (DECkNO) and the Race Equality Taskforce.
Physical, Cultural, and Cognitive Approaches to Decolonising Curriculum
Our Patterns Beyond Labels model supports staff to implement practical and sustainable approaches to decolonising the curriculum using physical, cultural and cognitive lenses to frame their practice. The lenses are intended to provide clarity and guidance, whilst also enabling staff to tailor their approach depending on the context of their subject discipline and needs of their student cohort. As with other forms of inclusive practice, decolonising represents a process and can be developed over a period of time.
Decolonising the university: academic and student voices in a South-North dialogue
In March 2021 the CLT and Race Equality Taskforce co-hosted an online seminar featuring presentations from Prof Andre Keet (Nelson Mandela University, SA), Decolonise Architecture, and the Students' Union. You can view the recording of this event via Re:View or read an overview on the CLT blog page.
Creating an anti-racist classroom: how can we put principles into practice?
In October 2020, as part of the CLT's Talk Teaching series, we hosted a panel discussion on creating an anti-racist classroom with internal and external speakers. You can view the recording of this event on Re:View.
Examples from Bath
In our current core first year unit in the Politics degrees, I give a lecture in the first semester focusing in part on privilege, what it means to those who have it and those who don't and what it means in HE. PL30880: The rise of the far right and PL30873: Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité: perceptions and reality in French society are two large final year optional units (between 60 and 90 students take them every year). These units are both based largely on my research and centred around a conceptual understanding of where reactionary ideas come from and what gives them strength at particular times. In these units, I encourage students to develop a critical outlook about their own positionality through the use of critical sources and work on challenging invisible norms such as whiteness.
Dr Aurelien Mondon, Department of Politics, Languages & International Studies
Two examples from my teaching practice: I teach Political Sociology (SP20244, year 2 and 3 Sociology students and students from other Departments in the Faculty). This year we will explore the question: Is Political Sociology Eurocentric? Why? In what Ways? What can be done about it?; (ii) I teach Sociological Theory (SP10044, SM 1), a Year 1 core unit. When I introduce the unit and the three Classical Sociologists Karl Marx, Max Weber and Emile Durkheim, we explore and discuss in class why these three classical sociologists are white and male. We talk about Eurocentrism and gender oppression.
Dr Ana Cecilia Dinerstein, Department of Social & Policy Sciences
- The prompts on the Decolonising SOAS toolkit are helpful as a practical way of working through your teaching material and in your design: see pp.9-10 and pp. 15-17. Both sections include practical suggested adaptations.
- Building the Anti-Racist Classroom Collective have some excellent suggested readings and a ‘student journey game’ resource to scaffold discussions with staff. The game provides staff with an interactive format to engage with the issues, centering the voices and knowledge of students of colour.
- Especially relevant for colleagues in Architecture and Civil Engineering, this resource from UCL shows an example of how race has been explicitly written into a curriculum on the theme of space and the built environment.
Recommended reading on decolonising the curriculum in HE
Our thanks to Ana Dinerstein for her help in compiling this list. You can use this Library reading list to access all the resources listed below:
- Why is My Curriculum White? Mariya Hussain, 11 March 2015.
- Arday, J and Mirza, H.S. (Eds.) (2018). Dismantling race in higher education: Racism, whiteness and decolonising the academy. London: Palgrave Macmillan.
- Bhambra, G. K., Gebrial, D. and Nişancıoğlu, K. (2018) Decolonising the University. London: Pluto Press (see especially p.119 on positionality, relationality, and transition).
- Freire, P. (2000). Pedagogy of the oppressed. London: Bloomsbury Publishing.
- The End of the Cognitive Empire. The Coming of Age of Epistemologies of the South, Boaventura de Sousa Santos.
- Santos, B. D. S. (ed) (2008) Another Knowledge is possible. Beyond Northern Epistemologies. London: Verso.
- Santos, B. D. S. (2014). Epistemologies of the South: Justice against Epistemicide, London: Routledge.
What do we mean?
Decolonising the curriculum involves reflecting on our assumptions about how the world is, and the legacies of Western colonialism and empire on knowledge, education and professions, especially around race. […] It is a profoundly reflective process that is never really completed, as new people and knowledge shape the learning community.