Embedding Race Equality into the Curriculum
#3Adopting an internationalist approach
3.1Creating opportunities for students to see topics from different perspectives and to engage in constructive critical analysis of these perspectives
There is a general recognition that University X wants to be recognised as an international university and has a lot of international students but if you have a lot of international students then you have to adapt your teaching styles and content. Like a lot of times I hear “it’s an international uni, it’s an international uni”, but I feel they haven’t stepped up to that level yet.
- Include writers and examples from a variety of cultural/ethnic/religious perspectives as appropriate. This is particularly important when discussing topics relating to other parts of the world. For example, if the topic is Chinese economics, then course reading should reflect authors from China who are experts in that field, as well as writers writing from a Western perspective. If the topic is the role of the Hindu faith in the construction of social class systems, it would be important to include the works of authors who are Hindu.
The HE Academy 2008 Conference was on the theme of “Internationalisation”. Papers presented at the conference can be found at The Higher Education Academy website. Those interested in internationalising the curriculum should visit the site for further ideas and discussions around this theme.
- Include cross-cultural examples in teaching, and use international case studies. Guest lecturers can be asked to lead sessions to supplement topics from specific perspectives.
- Ask students about what they are familiar with and include those cultural references as part of the curriculum content and discussions.
- Ask students to produce their own examples and develop an environment of peer learning.
- Discuss alternative ethics and value systems and relate these, where appropriate, to practice issues as they arise in the curriculum.
It is worth reading the article by Brookfield (2007)1 which problematises the diversification of the curriculum. The paper proposes that attempts to be inclusive of a range of intellectual traditions and perspectives without critical consideration of these varied positions could trivialise and undermine attempts towards greater equity and inclusion.
Tutors try to provide opportunities for students to find ways of looking at other (past) societies without the filter of Eurocentricism. Archaeology studies societies which are different and staff are conscious of projecting assumptions (seeing different societies as inferior, bad, opposite or “Other” to their own).
A compulsory module called “Theory and Interpretation in Archaeology” has postcolonial history as a key element. Westerners’ travel accounts, drawings and photographs are used as sources of information on the Middle East in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and are also considered critically.
The course has attempted to move away from essentialist notions of ethnicity and nationality. It also tries to look at culture and representations from the view of the colonised. For example, in discussing the issue of repatriation of human remains in Australia and the United States, it is important to assist students to not make value judgements that traditional academic discourse is superior to the more emotional claims of native Americans. Issues of justice, as well as of formal archaeological scholarship, should be acknowledged.
Selecting from a range of authors to enable deconstruction of Eurocentric views is important. Authors such as Frantz Fanon, Stuart Hall, Edward Said, Chris Gosden, Peter van Dommelen and Michael Given have all written from a perspective of deconstructing imperialist lenses.
Cultural and ethnic diversity are central themes in the course curriculum. They are mainstreamed in all components, from exploring what it means to be a child today to focusing on interdisciplinary working and social policy. Audio-visual case studies are used from South Africa, Bangladesh and the USA and these case studies run throughout the course. Race-related themes such as cultural, linguistic and faith diversities are addressed alongside issues of prejudice and discrimination. Using the case studies from the UK as well as other parts of the world provides opportunities for students to engage with childhood issues from a global perspective.
Presenting a variety of views reframes what is the centre. In a discussion about creativity and space tutors move away from contextualising these concepts solely from the perspective of “Western art”. Other philosophies, for example Yoruba or Ancient Indian, and their interpretations of creativity and space, are considered. The course tries to redress North-centred knowledge of arts, thereby addressing racial equality issues both directly and indirectly.
As a result of different art forms being discussed, senior library staff have noted a rise in the number of books being taken out on subjects not hitherto popular, such as those related to culture and colonialism. These are books which have been available in the library but which students have not generally been directed to in the past.
A course on Postcolonial Literature draws on critics of colonialism. Discourses such as those of Edward Said and Frantz Fanon on race and empire are theorised and critiqued from different perspectives. Theoretical discussions are accompanied with fictional text by writers like Chinua Achebe and Salman Rushdie, enabling topics to be represented beyond Western perspectives.
Students are provided with opportunities to develop understanding of race-related issues from an ideological perspective by studying and engaging in performance of non-European classical repertoire and being given access to non-European classical instruments. The course has also widened the selection of teaching and library materials (play texts, scores and so on) available to students to include world views from a wider range of authors.
There is proactive collaboration with communities, linking with minority ethnic community groups and initiatives such as working with asylum-seeker and refugee artists and young people with the intention of bringing the realities of multiculturalism as well as racism and racial discrimination into the study and practice of students.
Drawing on appropriate international and global contexts and case studies on approaches to health care systems (related to race, colour, ethnicity, customs and traditions), the course provides students with information on a range of health care delivery systems and issues which may impact on the quality of care and service delivery.
The social and cultural impacts of tourism on indigenous people, local communities and incoming tourists are discussed. Racial diversity is a key theme as experiencing different cultures and societies is part of the tourist experience. Issues of equity, exploitation and globalisation form part of the tourism curriculum as students are enabled to understand the social and economic forces of tourism globally. Links are made to voluntary organisations such as such as Tourism Concern, and case studies are used to stimulate student thinking on the impact of tourism on less developed countries.
- Brookfield, S. (2007) “Diversifying curriculum as the practice of repressive tolerance”, Teaching in Higher Education, vol. 12, nos. 5-6, pp. 557-68