Diversifying and Decolonising the Curriculum

In collaboration with staff and students across the university, we have been working on a number of diversifying and decolonising projects over several years. Diversifying and decolonising the curriculum is both ongoing and complex and while we see ‘diversification’ and ‘decolonisation’ as related, they are not identical projects. As such, we have brought them together to highlight the broad range of approaches staff can take to rethink their curricula.

We argue that the decolonising movement seeks to transform and diversify what we do in the university. Acknowledging the multiple definitions of decolonisation, at Herts we are using the term to primarily mean challenging established forms of knowledge and including alternative and multiple perspectives in all aspects of the university experience. By decentring white Eurocentric viewpoints, we aim to create an educational environment that works toward addressing the many structural inequalities in higher education. For example, diversifying and decolonising the curriculum aims, in part, to address the ‘awarding gap’, which has consequences for learning in, and life beyond, the university.

While there are many theories and practices of decolonisation in the world, we want to help university members be proactive and engaged in rethinking what we do at Herts.  LTIC currently offers support to colleagues seeking to move their work forward in decolonising and diversifying the curriculum forward by:

  • Offering University-led workshops for individual teams in the university;
  • Embedding diversification and decolonising into the CPAD (Continuing Professional Academic Development) programme for those starting to teach in higher education;
  • Making resources about diversifying and decolonising available to staff, students, and other members of the university community in a website and toolkit.

The website contains:

  • Information about those working on the topic
  • A pledge that anyone can sign up to, committing oneself to the project of transforming education
  • A blog, where we feature videos, audio, and text blog posts on various specific elements of diversification and decolonisation
  • A set of reading lists
  • Video and podcast resources, including specific episodes to listen to first
  • Toolkits that individuals and teams can use

We want the website to be a place to store and curate the materials that we have found useful. We hope that over time teaching staff in particular will be able to facilitate change by embedding some of the resources or their principles into their own work, whether as a programme leader, a module leader, lecturer, tutor, or any other role. The website also contains videos that staff can watch with their students; podcast episodes to discuss in a ‘reading group’ setting; and toolkits to inform programme periodic review and validation processes.

The toolkit is a guided reading list:

  • You can work through the toolkit in a way relevant to your context, background knowledge, and discipline.
  • ‘Starting Points’ outlines: what diversifying and decolonising are, with relevant histories and theories; if these movements are possible within the university; the University of Hertfordshire context; how to stretch yourself; and some warnings from indigenous scholars about appropriating the term ‘decolonising’
  • ‘Reading’ outlines: the purpose of reading lists; open access and university-only lists; and a space to suggest your own reading
  • ‘Discipline Specific Resources’ gathers materials across broad disciplinary groups
  • ‘Other Resources and Toolkits’ highlights other key university pages and projects
  • ‘Next Steps’ looks to the future of the work and asks for your involvement