Decolonising the curriculum: what’s all the fuss about?

Event Date: 1 February 2019
Room B04
Birkbeck Main Building
Birkbeck College
Malet St
London WC1E 7HX


The Decolonising Curriculum Working Group at Birkbeck College in association with the College Assistant Deans for Equalities and SCUTREA (Standing Conference on University Teaching and Research in the Education of Adults) presents:

Decolonising the curriculum: what’s all the fuss about?

This event will provide an opportunity for colleagues from across Birkbeck and beyond to engage with the ‘decolonising the curriculum’ in higher education debate. Contributors will include Dr William Ackah, lecturer in community and voluntary sector studies at Birkbeck, Ezimma Chigbo from the Birkbeck Students’ Union and Dr Kerry Harman, from Birkbeck’s Research Centre for Social Change and Transformation in Higher Education.

Professor Gurminder Bhambra and Dr Meera Sabaratnam, will speak on their experience of both the theory and practice of ‘decolonising the curriculum’. Professor Bhambra recently co-edited the publication ‘Decolonising the University ’, which considers the historical and discipliniary context of the decolonising the university movement, and includes contributions offering practical suggestions and discussion of broader theoretical questions. Dr Sabaratnam has played a leading role in developments to decolonise the curriculum at SOAS, University of London, as well as contributing to the ongoing national debate. In a 2017 blog article, ‘Decolonising the curriculum: what’s all the fuss about?’ Dr Sabaratnam offered three reasons why it can improve academic practice: by challenging assumptions and biases; asking questions about the relationship between writers and their identity and location; and challenging us consider the diversity of the student population and the implication of this for pedagogy and attainment.

The event aims to raise the profile of this important topic and enable Birkbeck colleagues to share good practice and learn from the experience of colleagues from other institutions. Following the speakers there will be space for discussion on what further steps can be taken to encourage good pedagogical practice and recognition for change.

Guest speakers:

Gurminder K Bhambra is Professor of Postcolonial and Decolonial Studies in the Department of International Relations in the School of Global Studies, at the University of Sussex. She is the author of Rethinking Modernity: Postcolonialism and the Sociological Imagination (Palgrave, 2007) and Connected Sociologies (Bloomsbury, 2014), and the co-editor of Decolonising the University (Pluto, 2018).

Meera Sabaratnam is Senior Lecturer in International Relations at SOAS, University of London. She is the author of Decolonising Intervention: International Statebuilding in Mozambique (Rowman & Littlefield, 2017), the co-founder and former co-convenor of the Colonial / Postcolonial / De-colonial Working Group of the British International Studies Association, and a member of the SOAS Decolonising the University Working Group.

Chair: Dr Jan Etienne (Birkbeck)

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