In this MicroCPD, Dr Gerasimos Tsourapas shares his experiences working on the “Decolonising the Curriculum” agenda as the ED&I Lead of the School of Government. At the School of Government, we approached this agenda as an iterative process, relying on multiple consultations with students and staff. We fostered the creation of a teaching circle on the theme of inclusive teaching, which involved over 20 teaching staff, including GTAs and TFs. Gradually, these efforts inspired an increasing number of colleagues and students. Over the last year, we were able to put aside any hesitation or suspicion of this agenda as more students and staff engaged in the Decolonising process. A School Away day solely dedicated to Decolonising the Curriculum, and the creation of a student BAME group, POLSIS in Colour, speak to the exciting times ahead.
This process has been ongoing since 2018, leading us to identify a few recommendations that could be taken into account by anyone considering embarking on similar projects across the University of Birmingham. These include:
Decolonising needs to be an inclusive exercise. We invited academic and professional services staff members, as well as students, to consult with us on our strategy from the very beginning. This iterative process included annual staff surveys, student focus groups, as well as dedicated sessions within meetings and away days in order to develop a strategy that reflected the views of as many colleagues and students as possible.
Decolonising is not Diversifying. Our strategy has targeted our programmes’ reading lists, raising concrete issues and offering support in improving them, but goes well beyond that. We view the Decolonising agenda as operating across three levels: educational-level issues of knowledge production; psychological-level issues on the marginalisation of BAME students and non-Western voices; and, finally, societal-level issues on preparing students to tackle contemporary challenges.
Decolonising is an ongoing process. We understood that there is no concrete end-point that concludes this agenda; rather, it is a continuous exercise whose success depends on continuing attention to issues of pedagogy, diversity, and power relations within and beyond the classroom.
We invite you to read the School of Government’s guide on Decolonising the Curriculum, and to get in touch in order to share your experience with this exciting agenda.