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Decolonizing the Educational Relationship in Higher Education

Decolonizing the Educational Relationship in Higher Education

September 1 2019 – May 7 2021

Awarded to: Professor Fatima Pirbhai-Illich

Research partners: University of Regina with University of Exeter

Funding awarded to Exeter $5000 CDN

Sponsor(s): University of Regina Knowledge Mobilization Fund

Principal Investigator: Fatima Pirbhai-Illich
Co-Investigator: Fran Martin


About the project

The aim of the project is to disseminate the outcomes of research conducted over the last ten years through (a) a conference and (b) preparation and analysis of data for a book.

Project description

A critical ethnographic study has been conducted on the impact of a Culturally Responsive Literacy Education course on pre- and in-service teachers’ understanding and implementation of decolonial approaches, supported by either/or SIDRU and the President’s SSHRC funding for the past ten years. Year on year, the findings have informed the next iteration of the course and, over time, we have developed a theoretical framework for decolonizing the educational relationship.

An overview of the proposed activities.

November 2020: Conference

Due to the global COVID pandemic, all conferences in 2020 were cancelled, and the conference did not run in 2021. In April 2022 it was agreed by the funding body that we could use the funds to support the professional editing of video recordings for a series of seminars given at the University of Exeter and the University of Regina in 2020-2021. These can be found on YouTube.

2019-2021: Data analysis and writing

A book contract has been secured with Emerald Publishing.It is being co-authored by Fatmakhanu (Fatima) Pirbhai-Illich, Fran Martin, and Shauneen Pete. The tentative title is “Developing Equitable Educational Relations: Practical Approaches to Decolonizing Pedagogies”.


The book will make a novel contribution to the ‘Decolonize education’ debate through its call for educators to radically change their educational relationships. Decolonizing education currently focuses on the curriculum. Our book argues that it is necessary to decolonize relationships before any attempt to decolonize the curriculum can be successful. The theoretical framework that we have developed, with our examples of how such a framework might be operationalized, have the potential to radically change not only Teacher Education, but education systems as a whole.