Decolonising the science curriculum : potential actions and a case study

Williams, Neil (2021) Decolonising the science curriculum : potential actions and a case study. In: Decolonising the Science Curriculum; 17 Mar 2023, Edinburgh, U.K.. (Unpublished)


The “decolonising the curriculum” agenda in the UK was very much initiated by the NUS’s “Why is my curriculum white campaign” in 2015 and has gained further momentum after recent Black Lives Matter events. To date much of the focus of this initiative has been in the Arts and Humanities disciplines. In Science the term can act as a barrier to staff making changes to the curriculum as there are diverse views of what it means, and it may not be obvious how it applies to Science. This presentation will review a variety of interpretations and its relevance to the Science curriculum. A set of potential actions to decolonise the curriculum, based on Schwartz’s theses have been developed as a resource for Advance HE .Research on Science students’ views on which of these actions would be most effective in decolonising the curriculum will be presented. The results show that advocacy is strongest for students of Black African origin. It is widely acknowledged, though, that decolonisation of the curriculum should embrace many other aspects of the power structure of universities. At Kingston University much of our work in this area has been framed within our “Developing an Inclusive Curriculum” project which won the Guardian Teaching Excellence award in 2017. This work encompasses “a reconsideration of who is teaching, what the subject matter is and how it’s being taught”, which is a useful definition of decolonising the curriculum. A driving force for these changes has been the target of reducing BAME awarding gaps. This has great importance at Kingston where some of our Science courses have > 80% BAME students. An example of how a chemistry module was reviewed and changed and its positive impact on student outcomes and awarding gaps will be presented

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