Decolonising the Curriculum at UofG

Image of UofG students standing together with the University of Glasgow tower in the background. Image was used for the Decolonising the Curriculum event at UofG

By UofG student Moni 

What does Decolonising the Curriculum mean to you? A question that has been on many people’s lips for years but more explicitly over the past year. 

Last month, the University held an event with the aim to educate both staff and students on the topic. Prior to the event we asked attendees to tell us what Decolonising the Curriculum meant to them – some examples included:

  • "A curriculum that represents a more neutral knowledge rather than representing knowledge or history of a particular group."
  • "Recognising and removing the limitations, bias and prejudice inherent within white Western-centric education and academia."
  • "Reviewing our syllabus to include work by authors from a range of different racial backgrounds, and which directly addresses issues of colonialism and its legacy. Interrogating our pedagogical practise to ensure that the way we teach is inclusive."
  • "Using multiple lenses to develop teaching and learning. Saying no to tokenism, saying yes to acknowledging privilege and exposing white fragility."

Over the past year, it has become clearer that decolonisation is both imperative and essential in working towards building an anti-racist environment and helping educate all staff and students on this issue.

I was part of a student roundtable which including representatives from each of the four colleges - Arts; Medical, Veterinary & Life Sciences; Science & Engineering and Social Sciences. It is safe to say that the student segment of the event was extremely successful.

Members of staff present highlighted the importance of giving Students of Colour a voice and platform is this discussion and project. A positive outcome of this discourse is that going forward there should be collaboration between staff and students in the work towards Decolonising the Curriculum at the University of Glasgow.

Dr Christine Whyte summarised some key points made by Eva, Sam, Sanskar and myself: "... At all times, colonised, racialised and marginalised people and their allies have erupted and disrupted the University, recreating them as sites for Decolonial study, Anti-Imperial protests, International solidarity and refuge.

"And as Moni highlighted, this discussion and this urgency we've had the past year, is something that should have been a long standing process of rethinking the curriculum, but the fact is that the recent events, the violence of recent events: the murder of George Floyd, and much closer to home the death of Sheku Bayoh; the ongoing violence and colonial settlement in Palestine; the attempted, forcible deportation of our neighbours here in Glasgow - have all given urgency to the conversations and the actions that were taking and thinking about today."

As our keynote speaker, Professor Nazira Karodia emphasised that this "consumption model can and will be displaced by a co-creation approach, which makes the classroom a democratic setting, where all are safe and empowered to learn together.

"So in that vein it was really inspiring to hear Moni articulate some of the hopes and visions that people bring with them to the University, as a sight to pursue and areas intellectual specialism where diverse interests can be supported. And Eva discussed how in the practical terms the interrogation of the classics was a more fruitful way to analyse how we got where we are, knowing the history of our curriculum became colonized by usually European, generally Male, often elite writers…

"Sam reiterated the importance of reflecting a true scholarly landscape, ensuring that key scholarship by authors who be marginalised is no longer ignored or corralled into specific weeks, but given instead its rightful place as part of the essential framework of understanding our world.

"I think Sanskar's point really hammered that home, highlighting the significance of his educational backgrounds, to learning about British colonialism and Empire and then coming to study in Britain with a lack of engagement and understanding of Imperialism was very clear.”


A recording of the student roundtable will be shared of the Glasgow University Students of Colour Network’s Facebook page in the coming weeks.

Social Media Accounts to follow if you want to support the Decolonising the Curriculum campaign at UofG:

Decolonise Glasgow Uni Student Group 
Glasgow University Students of Colour Network

 

First published: 24 June 2021

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