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UJ Decolonisation seminar addresses systemic higher education transformation

While calls to decolonise the curriculum have been occurring for decades, particularly through postcolonial, feminist and indigenous research, universities even in the global South remain very slow to draw upon this research to actively work to transform doctoral education and teaching and learning.

Indeed, the recent domination of university cultures by neoliberal and globalising capitalism has made this mission even more challenging. Global inequities in knowledge production continue to become further entrenched and Northern knowledge systems seem to be becoming more dominant.

These were the sentiments shared by Prof Catherine Manathunga of the University of the Sunshine Coast, Australia, when she led a seminar at UJ entitled ‘Decolonising the curriculum: reflections on transforming doctoral education through Southern higher education research‘ on Friday, 2 November 2018.

“The Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) is a key site where contested postcolonial histories, geographies and epistemologies play out sometimes in quite dangerous ways. Therefore, we need to draw upon a robust array of theoretical resources if we are to decolonise the curriculum and create spaces for Southern research to flourish, for research-based quality teaching and learning, and for universities to engage in effective community engagement with all of the ethnic communities represented in our postcolonial local and national contexts,” said Prof Catherine.

In her keynote presentation, Prof Catherine outlined the postcolonial/decolonial theoretical framework where she drew upon to explore a series of key strategies to decolonise the curriculum. She interrogated each of these strategies further, seeking practical examples from a range of Southern locations. I will conclude by inviting the audience to debate further how genuine decolonisation of the curriculum might be achieved in their own disciplines and universities.

The seminar formed part of the UJ Postgraduate School Spring Seminar Series, and was hosted by Johannesburg Institute for Advanced Study (JIAS) and the UJ Postgraduate School.

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