Thematic Track 1

Theme 1: Decolonisation and Transformation of the Curriculum: When, what, how, who?

Coordinators: Professor Michael Samuel and Dr Fayth Ruffin

Higher education curricula are being criticized as unresponsive, irrelevant and out-dated to the ever-changing social and economic realities, government and industry needs and global demands. More recently, students have weighed-in on the growing demands for curriculum transformation, calling for the excising of all remnants of coloniality from higher education. It is not always clear exactly what is meant by this, or who should take responsibility for its demise, nor how this should be done, but the message is abundantly clear: higher education can no longer take refuge in sublime indifference to the increasing demands for reassessment of what is branded a hegemonic curriculum, which is complicit in advancing structural inequality and privilege.

Paradoxically, universities, which are sometimes dismissed as bastions of conservatism, have now become the sites of contestation, mobilization and activism. The increasingly confrontational and sometimes violent activism is not just about what universities teach or don’t teach; the university is increasingly being linked to social justice, gender justice, linguistic justice and a host of other pathologies endemic to society. Responding to many of these demands falls outside the capacity of the university alone, but the university does have the capacity to begin engaging in what it means to engender curricular justice in our lifetimes.

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