Bristol Conversations in Education - Decolonising education for sustainable futures (UNESCO Chair seminar series)

10 February 2021, 12.30 PM - 24 February 2021, 6.30 PM

A series of online events with expert speakers convened by Professor Leon Tikly, Dr Keith Holmes, Yvette Hutchinson, Dr Julia Paulson and Professor Arathi Sriprakash

This is a series of three online seminars - please register for each one separately and read through the confirmation email for details of how to attend. Early booking advised.

This event is part of the School of Education's Bristol Conversations in Education research seminar series. These seminars are free and open to the public.

You are invited to a series of events on the topic of decolonising education for sustainable futures. The aim of this series is to consider how ideas about the future of education can benefit from current efforts to decolonise education. 

Co-hosted by the UNESCO Chair on Inclusive and Quality Education for All, with the Centre for International Research in Education, EdJAM - Education, Justice and Memory Network and Educational Futures Network, School of Education, University of Bristol.

The idea of sustainable futures lies at the heart of UNESCO’s Futures of Education initiative which aims to reimagine how knowledge and learning can shape the future of humanity and the planet by equipping learners with diverse ways of being and knowing. Yet much of the knowledge, values and skills that we are expected to learn in formal education systems have been Eurocentric in nature. That is to say that they draw primarily on Western frameworks and histories, excluding other ways of conceiving the natural and social world. Protests including those led by the Black Lives Matter, Rhodes Must Fall, Indigenous and other anti-colonial, anti-racist social movements have called for education to be decolonised and for diverse knowledge systems to be the basis for realising equitable and sustainable futures. These demands have become accentuated in the current crisis. This series is about the importance of recognising epistemic justice as a condition for realising social and environmental justice in and through education and training.

The following overarching questions will guide discussions:

  1. In what ways are agendas for decolonising education and sustainable futures connected? What are the tensions? What does decolonising education for sustainable futures involve? How should it be conceived and enacted?
  2. What are the roles and responsibilities of educational organisations/institutions, individuals and civil society stakeholders in decolonising education?
  3. What forms of repair and reconstruction are required for sustainable futures of education? What are the possibilities for ‘reparative’ justice in and through education, given education’s enduring complicity with coloniality and environmental injustice?

A series of three 1.5 hour online seminars will be convened to address these overarching questions. Using an open, roundtable approach, the seminars aim to bring together policy, practitioner and academic communities and will include a panel of speakers with  plenty of time for audience participation in the spirit of dialogue.


1. Connecting decolonial and sustainable futures in education

10 February, 12-13:30 (GMT)

Convenors: Professor Leon Tikly (UNESCO Chair in inclusive, good quality education) and Dr Keith Holmes (UNESCO, Future of Learning and Innovation team) 

This will serve as an introductory session that will introduce the Futures of Education initiative and set out some of the theoretical and political connections between the decolonial and environmental justice agendas in education.

Video clip: Learning to Become



2. From theory to practice: decolonising education for sustainable futures

17 February, 12-13:30 (GMT)

Convenors: Yvette Hutchinson (British Council/ United Kingdom Forum for International Education and Training) and Professor Leon Tikly (UNESCO Chair in inclusive, good quality education)

This panel will address how activists and organisations have been reimagining education. Representing different perspectives and nascent and more established practice  speakers will demonstrate how they are learning from anti-colonial and anti-racist struggles.

Video clip: Lawrence Hoo, Universal City 



3. Education’s ‘reparative’ possibilities: responsibilities and reckonings for sustainable futures

February 24, 17-18:30 (GMT)

Convenors: Dr Julia Paulson (Principal Investigator, EdJAM - Education Justice and Memory Network) and Professor Arathi Sriprakash (University of Bristol, School of Education)

This panel will critically discuss the possibilities of reparative justice in and through education in the context of education’s enduring complicity with coloniality and racism. Speakers will address connections between education as a site of memory, the case for climate reparations and indigenous and feminist perspectives.

Video clip: Vanessa Kisuule, Hollow


  • Tarcila Rivera Zea (founder and president of CHIRAPAQ - Centre for Indigenous Cultures of Peru, expert member of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues)
  • Dr Keston Perry – (political economist with expertise in climate policy and justice, Lecturer in Economics, University of the West of England)
  • Dr Julia Paulson (EdJAM, University of Bristol)
  • Professor Arathi Sriprakash (School of Education, University of Bristol, author of Learning With the Past: Racism, Education and Reparative Futures)

This event will include simultaneous interpretation between English and Spanish. 

CATCH UP ON 'EDUCATION'S 'REPARATIVE' POSSIBILITIES: RESPONSIBILITIES AND RECKONINGS FOR SUSTAINABLE FUTURES' (Video, automatic transcript and chat - this unedited recording has original Speaker audio in Spanish and English - we hope to make a version with translations in the subtitles available soon)

Contact information

Christie Smith

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