By erasing the past, are universities racialising the campus?
This debate is part of the series Killing controversy: the silencing of speech
In recent years, attempts at a variety of universities to ‘decolonise’ the curriculum have gathered momentum. The movement is underpinned by the idea that the curriculum is too full of ‘dead white men’ and needs to be more diverse. This suggests that the identity of authors is as important as their ideas and their contribution.
The arguments in favour of decolonising the curriculum suggest that students can only empathise with and learn from thinkers and writers from their own culture or racial background. Does this mean that non-white students of literature cannot understand or relate to Shakespeare in the same way as their white peers? What are the implications of this thinking? Is the decolonising movement promoting a hyper-racialism on campus?
As well as the attempt to decolonise the subjects taught, there is also an attempt to base pedagogy – that is, how you are taught – on racial or cultural lines. What are the implications of saying that students from certain cultures or racial backgrounds need different forms of teaching? Does the decolonising movement imply that your identity defines you? Though the movement may be well intentioned, does it end up being divisive?
Historian Dr Cheryl Hudson (University of Liverpool) and educationalist Dr Ruth Mieschbuehler (University of Derby) will explore the background to these developments and the dangers they may present for the future of education.
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