Decolonising the Curriculum

Our approach to Decolonising the Curriculum (DTC) has been a joint effort from students and staff alike.

The University-led plan is overseen by the Race Equality Charter Self-Assessment Team Co-Chairs, Dr Lisa Lau and Professor Trevor McMillan. 

The Decolonise Keele Network (DKN), a consortium of staff and students, are working at the grass-roots level to embed DTC within Schools. DKN have veen very active and instrumental in furthering the DTC agenda here at Keele and numerous members of the group have been invited to speak at other institutions about their work.

Our strategy is to ensure that all Schools within the University are actively engaging with the DTC work through the creation of bespoke DTC action plans. These plans are being formulated by student-staff working groups and will form the basis of the DTC work in each School. 

To aid in these plans we delivered a series of Faculty-specific workshops to help staff better understand DTC, how to embed it into their curricula and also had open and honest conversations about potential barriers.

We have also developed a staff guide to decolonising the curriculum, which can be downloaded from this page. This contains more theory behind DTC, examples to help embed DTC in the three Faculties, examples from other institutions, as well as useful resources.

Download the full Decolonising the Curriculum Staff Guide

Keele University DTC Staff Guide - PDF format (647 KB)

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Keele University DTC Staff guide - Word format (321 KB)

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Decolonising the Curriculum (DTC) is an integral part of both the student and staff action plans of the Race Equality Charter. Within these plans we have organised various workshops on DTC for staff.

We have also been creating inclusive and representative staff-student working groups who are tasked with exploring ways to embed DTC in their Schools and create a set of action plans to achieve this. The actions plan will vary from School to School but all will take a decolonial standpoint and include innovative DTC initiatives.

Another key driver of DTC at Keele has been the Decolonise Keele Network. They have launched their own manifesto for decolonising the curriculum, have arranged numerous events and worked to help other students and staff at other institutions further embed DTC. 

Decolonising the Curriculcum is an ongoing process that will take time and we are committed to this progress

The Decolonise Keele Network defines decolonising the curriculum as a process of:

"identifying colonial systems, structures and relationships, and working to challenge those systems. It is not "integration" or simply the token inclusion of the intellectual achievements of non-white cultures. Rather, it involves a paradigm shift from a culture of exclusion and denial to the making of space for other political philosophies and knowledge systems. It's a culture shift to think more widely about why common knowledge is what it is, and in so doing adjusting cultural perceptions and power relations in real and significant ways."

DTC is about addressing the colonial legacies that persist within Western forms of knowledge. It's about reflecting on this knowledge, transforming ways of thinking, teaching, learning and researching. DTC goes beyond issues of race and takes into consideration gender, disability and sexual orientation when it comes to critically reflecting on knowledge. 

It's about challenging biases, having uncomfortable but necessary conversations that make individuals and institutions inwardly reflect on:

  • what they believe to be authoritative knowledge
  • how this is conveyed to students
  • its impacts

As an institution of teaching and learning we must understand our complicity in upholding colonial legacies, how this has shaped what and who we take as authoritative knowledge and how this has marginalised and alienated students and staff. The status quo in academia must be ruptured to ensure that we are a University that critically reflects and acknowledges the very problematic histories that have formed swathes of our knowledge bases.

DTC is imperative in cultivating a new generation of critical thinkers who have:

  • unlearned that the Western 'classical' canon are the only and main form of authoritative knowledge,
  • learned about a variety of topics from a range of authors
  • been taught in ways that are inclusive and accessible
  • are taught by a diverse range of academics

Ultimately DTC benefits all students, not just our minority students, as they will all be learning from a critically reflective curriculum. University is about receiving a well-rounded education and we want students to have a broader perspective when studying and researching with us. 

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