Decolonising Curricula

Contact us

For further information, please contact:

Dr Mark Jackson, Associate Professor in Human Geography

Further resources

Tools and resources are available to current staff and students on the School's intranet site

The School of Geographical Sciences is committed to decolonisation.

Context

We recognise that universities, together with the practice and discipline of geography, have long histories of colonial entanglement, exclusion, and reproduction. From things like mapping to facilitate imperial expansion and resource extraction, to the geopolitics of exploration and cultures of representation, geography is no stranger to colonialism past and present.

Contemporary geography is, however, increasingly committed and, in some arenas, leading the way in decolonising approaches to the physical and social sciences and to the humanities.

Principles and Values

The School of Geographical Sciences at the University of Bristol works honestly and openly to address historical and contemporary colonialisms. Crucially, through our teaching and research we also seek to foreground numerous ways of responding to historical and contemporary harms by appreciating and understanding the flourishing of diverse social and natural worlds. Our work as teachers and researchers is committed, therefore: to truth and transparency; to principles of social justice and sustainability; to doing no harm; to reducing the impacts of social, economic, and environmental harm; to equality; to the flourishing of diversity; and, to principles of inclusion.

Decolonising the School and its curricula expands the scope and depth of engagement in contemporary human and physical geographies, and helps to enable a critical, rigorous, and interdisciplinary culture of inquiry for staff and students. Becoming clear about how the School enshrines its curiosities, values, and purposes within its curricula, as well as communicating their intent, variety, and complexity only benefits the School’s broader context, whose rationale and purpose lies within its name, ‘School of Geographical Sciences.’

What we are doing

We see the responsibility of decolonisation in broad and multiple terms. First, we are focused on expanding the scope and diversity of what and how we teach. At each of our undergraduate and postgraduate levels, our curricula incorporate learning about colonialism and coloniality, and importantly, about imperatives of decolonisation. Second, we welcome and actively recruit students and staff from diverse backgrounds and experiences. Our School culture is all the richer for the diversities of learning and insight our students and staff bring and together build as our community. We are working hard to foster a more inclusive and representative school and discipline. And, third, we are working across the University’s scales, from senior management to the student voice, to build responsive and equitable programmes of study and knowledge production.

If you’d like to learn more about what we are doing, please feel free to contact Dr. Mark Jackson, the School’s lead on decolonisation. Mark will be happy to tell you about the School and University’s decolonising activities, including:

  • a recent 2021 curriculum review
  • the School’s Decolonising Curricula Working Group
  • particular units, teaching themes and activities
  • our new BAME student support group
  • School research relevant to decolonisation
  • our links to similar initiatives across the University and the wider discipline
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