Decolonising the University

We are decolonising our education at Leeds.  

The University of Leeds’ decolonising framework aims to helps students and staff question issues of history, power and the origins of the knowledge taught.

This framework was devised by a working group of academics, professional services staff and Leeds University Union executive officers in consultation with staff and students across the institution.

The framework’s key principles not only encompass learning and teaching provision but also student support and wider institutional practices and procedures. The key principles are supported by a series of how to guides and podcasts, a reading list and examples of student research projects. All the resources will be updated on an ongoing basis to reflect the development of work in this area. See our decolonising key principles and resources.

A decolonial education:

  • Questions the origins of the information taught and the influence of colonial legacies
  • Challenges the presence of a hidden curriculum of assumed knowledge that unfairly disadvantages many
  • Asks whose knowledge and voices are undervalued and silenced
  • Works proactively to rebalance unequal power dynamics
  • Evaluates the curriculum and pedagogical practices as an evolving and responsive process, with partnership between the staff and student body at its heart
  • Combats racial prejudices and discrimination and challenges racialised privilege
  • Is relevant and applicable to all disciplines across the university
  • Encompasses wider university structures and practices outside of teaching.

Students from minoritised groups have highlighted a sense of alienation, partly caused by curriculum content that either does not speak to their interests and lived experiences or, worse, is discriminatory and biased. There is no one way to decolonise, it requires us to continually reflect on and adapt our teaching and educational practices.

Student stories

Read about Esta-Rose Nyeko-Lacek a history undergraduate student who undertook a LITE Summer research placement to conduct research into decolonising reading lists. 

As a black woman, I have had first-hand experience of not seeing myself reflected in reading lists. I am excited to lay the groundworks of a project which aims to engage with academia beyond dominant narratives and voices."

Esta-Rose Nyeko-Lacek