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Decolonising your pedagogies

Inclusive Curriculum and Pedagogies: we must do both!

During our research project, we surveyed and interviewed students about this topic. This is what students said.

  • When we asked students at two universities if it is important to them that their psychology curriculum covers topics about the experiences of BAME communities and/or individuals, 91% were positive, 3% negative and 6% neutral.
  • When we asked students at two universities if their psychology curriculum/modules reflect topics which represent people from BAME backgrounds, 27% disagreed, 25% were neutral, and only 48% agreed.
  • When we asked students at two universities, 97% said It is important to them that their psychology curriculum explores the experiences of BAME communities and/or individuals.
Clearly, our students wanted representations of the people of colour in their curriculum, but this is not always the case; there is a clear mismatch here - this call for action to decolonise our psychology curriculum now!

What is decolonising and what is it not

There are many definitions of decolonising psychology, our project team established Keele Universities definition of decolonisation which was co-created as part of Keele's Manifesto for Decolonising the CurriculumLink opens in a new window (2019) by Keele's Student Union (SU), Keele Postgraduate Association (KPA) and Keele's University College Union (KUCU) should be used to frame this project.  

“Decolonisation involves identifying colonial systems, structures, and relationships, and working to challenge those systems. It is not “integration” or simply the token inclusion of the intellectual achievements of non-white cultures. Rather, it involves a paradigm shift from a culture of exclusion and denial to the creation of space for other political philosophies and knowledge systems. It’s a culture shift to think more widely about why common knowledge is what it is and, in so doing, adjusting cultural perceptions and power relations in real and significant ways”. 

The 3D Pedagogy Framework is an inclusive practise model aimed to decolonize, democratise, and diversify UK higher education curricula. She defines it "as a fusion of social justice pedagogy, critical race pedagogy and critical reflective practise."

The following definitions are taken from Dr. Gabriel’s article Enhancing Higher Education Practice Through the 3D Pedagogy Framework to Decolonize, Democratize and Diversify the Curriculum.


Decolonization is more than just questioning "Eurocentric modes of thinking inextricably linked to slavery, colonialism, and modernity." It is also about building and expanding "new ways of thinking, knowing, and doing that emerge from the intellectual production that emerges from the lived experience of the colonised."


In her definition of democratisation, Gabriel quotes Aldridge (2000). “Democratisation […] refers to cultural democracy, defined as the principle that all ethnic and cultural groups should 'be active participants in the world with an equal right to the cultural, economic and political power available within society.' In higher education, this means looking beyond Eurocentric modes of thinking and including different ways of constructing and sharing knowledge. This empowers students as contributors to their education and the ways in which they and their peers are taught.


Gabriel defines diversification as “an essential component of cultural democracy and refers to an inclusion within the curriculum of global and diverse cultural perspectives in course content and teaching and learning.

Our students gave some free comments about their curriculum and also the wider student experience. It is clear that decolonising psychology cannot be about reading lists and slotting in a few studies from the global south. We need to look at structural barriers such as lack of representation and why studies from the global majority do not always feature in high impact papers. Importantly, we need to adopt compassion focused


Decolonization is not a metaphor

The decolonial bandwagon and the dangers of intellectual ...

The problem with decolonisation: entanglements in the politics of knowledge

My Curriculum is W.E.I.R.D

"More focus on alternative stories, a shift from westernised stories/accounts” (Paulo).
•“I would have appreciated the diversity in the curriculum, I have made lemonade with the Lemons I have… Again, if we discuss the elephant in the room (which is that White and Black people have different experiences in life)” (Jasleen)

Representation and authorship

•We don't have enough BAME professors (Ash)
•I think if we had more representation in our department, it would make a difference” (Jenna).
“Attempt to cover more research authored by ethnic minorities/other minority groups (Olu).

Understanding & Compassion

•“I don't think my tutors understand the experience of BAME students, being in a space where we are not represented. I don't doubt they would support any conversation on the topic, but it’s not sympathy that is needed sometimes I need practical advice or just an understanding” (Jenson)
•“By promoting discussions about racial difference in class, BAME students can hear what other people think of ethnic minorities and if they can confirm that the room is a safe space, then they are more likely to speak to non-ethnic minorities, knowing that there is no prejudice against them” (Shazia)

Developing an evidence-Informed decolonising curriculum wheel – A reflective piece

This guide provides instructions on how to engage in and continuously evaluate decolonizing curricula activities. The guide includes conducting a scoping literature review and thematic analysis of student focus groups.

Ahmed-Landeryou, M. (2023). Developing an evidence-Informed decolonising curriculum wheel – A reflective piece. Equity in Education & Society, 2(2), 157-180.

Figure 2. Evidence-informed framework to guide decolonising curricula. Source Ahmed-Landeryou 2023


  • BMEPsychology is an excellent resource and must visit for all people who want to decolonise psychology. The toolkit aims to raise awareness on colonized curriculums and provide tools for decolonizing teaching practices (Jankowski, 2016).
    • link here  
    • Reference: Jankowski, G. (2016). About–BME psychology. BME Psychol.
  • Decolonising SOAS learning and teaching toolkit for programme and module convenors. This toolkit guides programme and module convenors on "decolonising" teaching. It involves making teaching practices more responsive to colonialism, racial privilege, and discrimination..
    • link here
    • Reference: Decolonising SOAS Working Group. (2018). Decolonising SOAS learning and teaching toolkit for programme and module convenors. May. blogs. soas. ac. uk/decolonisingsoas/files/2018/10/Decolonising-SOAS-Learning-and-Teaching-Toolkit-AB. pdf.
  • Infographic about decolonising introductory psychology here
  • Can we really decolonise psychology? Pillay discussed that genuine decolonisation in psychology requires a shift from mere buzzword usage to dismantling the colonial underpinnings that shape the discipline. Psychology's complicity in apartheid regimes and its perpetuation of white-centric thinking highlight the need to challenge the notion of a monolithic 'mainstream psychology' that marginalizes diverse perspectives like 'African Psychology.' Maintaining this colonial lens hinders authentic decolonization efforts.
  • Reference: Pillay SR. Cracking the fortress: can we really decolonize psychology? South African Journal of Psychology. 2017;47(2):135-140. doi:10.1177/0081246317698059

Do we really need to decolonise Psychology? Hear from the experts! Why we need to decolonize psychology | Thema Bryant

Some good reads

Shift from race science to prejudice:

Pillay, S. R. (2017). Cracking the fortress: Can we really decolonize psychology?. South African Journal of Psychology, 47(2), 135-140.

How to be Anti-Racist

Puvanendran et al., (2021) introduces Wellcome's anti-racist principles and toolkit – a framework for how to be anti-racist at Wellcome.

link to report here

Decolonising the Curriculum

“How can a university truly pride itself on being at the forefront of knowledge production when the only ideas and theories that they consider worthy of study are white and European, and most likely, propagated by men?”

– The Black Girl’s Manifesto for Change pg.71

Within UK education, many students spend their time studying without encountering or learning about non-European societies. When non-European societies are studied, they are often homogenised despite their diversity and grave differences. In doing so other cultures are othered, seen as lesser, thus perpetuating a cycle of having a Eurocentric curriculum. Higher Education (HE) universities hold great autonomy over how their curricula are presented to students and are uniquely positioned to foster critical thinking. This is achieved by incorporating diverse voices and global perspectives into their curricula. However, the absence of diversity and limited exploration of global affairs* within HE curricula serves as a criticism to the education system. This in turn prevents students’ development of the world and reinforces already existing biases.

Decolonising the curriculum is essentially about dismantling and challenging the dominant Eurocentric perspectives and values which shape the educational curriculum. It is important to note that this is not about the eradication of Western contributions to the curriculum but decentring and diversifying it.


Appleton, L. (2018). Liberate my degree: How libraries can help students have influence over their services.

· Barnes, B., & Siswana, A. (2018). Psychology and decolonisation: Introduction to the special issue. South African Journal of Psychology, 48(3), 297-298.

· Bhatia, S. (2020). Decolonizing psychology: Power, citizenship and identity. Psychoanalysis, Self and Context, 15(3), 257-266.

· Macleod, C. I. (2018). The case for collation to inform debate and transform practice in decolonising Psychology. South African Journal of Psychology, 48(3), 372-378.

· Macleod, C. I., Bhatia, S., & Liu, W. (2020). Feminisms and decolonising psychology: Possibilities and challenges. Feminism & Psychology, 30(3), 287-305.

· Pillay, S. R. (2017). Cracking the fortress: Can we really decolonize psychology?. South African Journal of Psychology, 47(2), 135-140.

· Ratele, K., & Malherbe, N. (2020). What antiracist psychology does and does not (do). South African Journal of Psychology, 50(3), 296-300.

· Ratele, K., Cornell, J., Dlamini, S., Helman, R., Malherbe, N., & Titi, N. (2018). Some basic questions about (a) decolonizing Africa (n)-centred psychology considered. South African Journal of Psychology, 48(3), 331-342.

· Shain, F., Yıldız, Ü. K., Poku, V., & Gokay, B. (2021). From silence to ‘strategic advancement’: institutional responses to ‘decolonising’in higher education in England. Teaching in Higher Education, 26(7-8), 920-936.

· Wessells, M. (2015). Decolonizing Global Mental Health: The Psychiatrization of the Majority World.,5&as_vis=1#d=gs_qabs&t=1700431044460&u=%23p%3DhaO3X7nwbrYJ,5&as_ylo=2023&as_vis=1#d=gs_qabs&t=1700431089946&u=%23p%3DcRCgwBmI-wQJ,5&as_ylo=2023&as_vis=1#d=gs_qabs&t=1700431271470&u=%23p%3Dk4OKoHme3LoJ,5&as_ylo=2023&as_vis=1#d=gs_qabs&t=1700431432961&u=%23p%3D2WL_yKSzZOoJ,5&as_vis=1#d=gs_qabs&t=1700431505022&u=%23p%3De0SSAOdkSXAJ,5&as_vis=1#d=gs_qabs&t=1700431547906&u=%23p%3D1vkM-YVWyOgJ,5&as_ylo=2023&as_vis=1#d=gs_qabs&t=1700431697878&u=%23p%3DOLoaUQo3KUYJ