Campaigning for Curriculum Diversity at Oxford

Voices Across Borders

The Blog of the Race and Resistance Research Network at TORCH

Posted by: Ruby Seresin

Date: 23 April 2015

Campaigning for Curriculum Diversity at Oxford

Last year CRAE (OUSU’s Campaign for Racial Awareness and Equality) began to investigate lack of diversity in curriculum at Oxford. The first step in the campaign for curriculum review was the preparation of two reports: the 100 Voices 2 report, which presented qualitative student responses from BME students on race and ethnicity, and the Student Race Survey, which presented quantitative and qualitative data from over 500 Oxford students of all racial and ethnic identities. 

In the reports, students identified the failure of Oxford’s curriculum to capture the perspectives of non-Western people, thought, and culture, and indicated a resulting sense of alienation and intellectual stagnation. The current curriculum was perceived as cultivating the idea that there is no such thing as non-Western knowledge, and that the most authoritative and legitimate academic voices are Western. 

This problem is further exacerbated by a lack of diversity in Oxford’s teaching staff. One of the crucial factors in enhancing and maintaining diversity in curriculum is creating a multicultural community of scholars.  A variety of perspectives encourages critical thought and discussion, which promotes a high quality of education for all students. BME faculty members also serve as mentors and role models for BME students in ways that cannot be fulfilled by white faculty. 

In the short-term, CRAE’s aims are to push for additional focus on race and ethnicity within the existing curriculum and train existing tutors in strategies to maintain cultural awareness and sensitivity in their teaching. We are currently running pilot projects in PPE and Archaeology and Anthropology to investigate the diversity of existing curricula and professors, and how this impacts current students. We hope to use these pilot projects to inform future work in these and other courses. 

Starting this term, we have some exciting events happening as a part of our campaign. There will be an initial “call to action” event in 1st/2nd week of Trinity where we hope to gather a network of allies who are interested in working together on curriculum diversity. This will be followed by the first in a series of “best practices” sessions in 3rd/4th week, where scholars, students and staff can update each other on their work, discuss common obstacles, and share strategies. We’re looking forward to these events as a way to launch productive, sustained work on diversifying curricula into the coming terms. 

If you wish to keep informed regarding our campaign and events, our contact details are below.

Ruby Seresin is a first-year undergraduate studying Mathematics and Philosophy at Corpus Christi College.

Related events

1) Panel Discussion: Why Oxford Needs a Diverse Curriculum Students and faculty from universities across the UK and the world are working to expand their institutions' curricula beyond the White, Western, Eurocentric ideas and perspectives that have traditionally dominated. Join the Campaign for Racial Awareness and Equality and a panel of staff and students on Friday 8 May 2015 at 5-6pm in the Green Templeton College Lecture Theatre as we delve into the question of why change is needed within Oxford's curricula, and what can be done to create that change. We'll hear the perspectives of staff, postgrad and undergrad students, and begin to formulate steps around what we need to do as members of the Oxford community to make our academic spaces more inclusive. See the poster attached below and the Facebook event linked here:

2) Roundtable Discussion on Race and Curriculum in Oxford You are invited to attend a round-table event on 19 May 2015, 2 – 4pm, focused on achieving greater diversity in the curriculum. The guest speaker will be Dr Rachel van Duyvenbode from Sheffield University who is coming to share her experience of facilitating the Sheffield SEED Project on Inclusive Curriculum; University staff and student speakers will report on their own subject’s approach to curriculum review.

Speaker details

Dr Rachel van Duyvenbode from Sheffield University is a Lecturer in the School of English, University of Sheffield . She is leading The Sheffield SEED Project (Seeking Educational Equity and Diversity) in Inclusive Curriculum 2015. Rachel will be exploring in her talk the approach to the planning process and the SEED Project as a possible model for promoting an inclusive curriculum, and she will also share her reflections on the project to date.

The venue:  the Mawbey Room in Kellogg College, Banbury Road.

Please reply by 15 May to< if you wish to attend.


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Race and Resistance across Borders in the Long Twentieth Century