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Transforming Education

Decolonising our Curriculum

A key driver of our Education Incubator initiative is the confidence and resilience to be fearless in our approach to reimagining education and the possibilities it can realise. Nowhere is that more important than in ensuring our curriculum is open to, and engaging for students from all backgrounds. In evolving education to keep pace with a rapidly changing world, we’re keeping learning at the forefront by empowering students to lead the way…

Since the end of 2020, the Education Incubator has been working in partnership with the Provost’s office, the Unlearn Collective and various University departments to support an innovative range of Student-Led Anti-Racism (SLAR) projects, each designed to empower students to solve problems relating to racial equality, diversity, and inclusion at the University and beyond.

This included supporting delivery of the projects in the spring and summer of 2021, empowering five teams to run a series of events to lobby for lasting change. The Incubator also set up a #SLAR network for everyone interested in anti-racism projects, creating opportunities to meet, discuss and collaborate on driving change.

The Decolonise the Politics Curriculum project set out to produce a report of the same name to de-Westernise, liberate and diversify the curriculum, evaluate the Department and challenge unconscious bias. The team also committed to creating a ‘Teacher’s Toolkit’ to provide lecturers with guidance on evaluating sources in terms of cultural bias.

Already, the team has completed most of their research, launched two surveys and identified areas of discontent between experiences of BAME and white students. The project continues to conduct secondary research, has established a strong social presence and has been shared by decolonise projects in other UK universities.

To help achieve our aim of establishing a Community Policy and Justice Hub, we’ve established the Exeter Policy Clinic. In the short term, the Clinic will give students an opportunity to learn about policies that can incite or impact racism. While the long-term goal is to create an inter-disciplinary module that integrates work policy into a course.

The project’s first seminar on Article 8 ECHR and immigration attracted nearly 30 attendees and the Clinic continues to focus on key areas of reform by providing platforms for students to engage with real-world law and policy issues.

Creative Switch Exeter is highlighting and providing a platform for Exeter’s creative BIPOC community. The team are working with Art Work Exeter, the Global Centre Exeter, Magic Carpet and others to further develop a professional and social network and educate staff and students on the issues.

“We want to create a diverse creative network and promote inclusivity within Guild-affiliated creative societies, as well as give these individuals a space to express themselves freely.”

Creative Switch has put artwork and photography by BIPOC students at the heart of their website and Instagram, showcasing their personal experiences of art, work and university. The project is also encouraging students to channel their creativity, make new connections and grow their skillset.

Another project, Active Together Exeter, is challenging racism and discrimination in sport by changing the conversation about racial diversity in sports societies. To create long-lasting, positive change, the team are working alongside the Students’ Guild and Athletics Union to introduce ‘sports inclusivity badges’, secure funding to offer EDI training to committee members and recruit and train 36 Diversity Inclusion Cohesion and Equality (DICE) champions.

At the same time, the Roots Resistance project is supporting and amplifying the voices of POC through photography, music, poetry, storytelling and film. Grounded in anti-racism and decolonial knowledge production, the project has produced a short film about bringing different cultures together through food, a poetry film that tells the story of Asylum seekers in the UK, and a visual art piece that draws attention to the disproportionate impact the pandemic is having on marginalised communities, specifically the East Asian community.

The project has also hosted inspirational, informational speakers and events and has launched the Roots Review Journal.

We’ll continue to think outside the box and be ambitious in our approach to testing ideas in an agile way while cultivating innovation through collaboration.