Through our services and collections, we can play a part in engaging our students and staff to challenge and broaden individual’s perspectives of what constitutes knowledge and truth.
This work supports UWE Bristol’s position on decolonising the curriculum. It also supports and reinforces UWE Bristol’s wider inclusivity aims to embed inclusive pedagogies (methods and principles of teaching), practices and culture through an institution-wide approach to building an inclusive university.
What do we mean by diversifying and decolonising?
"Diversity is being asked to the party. Inclusion is being asked to dance."
- Diversity is the presence of difference. It is about "Recognising, valuing and taking account of individuals' different backgrounds, knowledge, skills and experiences to create a more productive and effective educational community." (Taken from the UWE Bristol Equality, Diversity and Inclusivity Policy)
- Inclusivity, at UWE Bristol, is about "creating an institutional culture by promoting the involvement and interaction of a diverse range of staff and students in university life." (Taken from the UWE Bristol Equality, Diversity and Inclusivity Policy)
- Decolonisation, at its most basic, is the undoing of colonialism, meaning institutionally and individually acknowledging that the impacts of colonialism are prevalent and taking action. Colonisation and resultant white privilege are about structures and power. In that dance analogy, whose party is it? Remaining colonial thinking is about who gets to choose the guests and the music to play.
What are we doing within Library Services?
- We support inclusive reading lists and collections, by providing advice and guidance to college colleagues and by engaging students in these discussions.
- We work towards diversifying and decolonising our teaching material to expose our students to different perspectives and issues, whilst developing their critical thinking.
- We support training and development of our staff in their understanding of decolonisation, diversity, and inclusion.
- We explore and share best practice at UWE Bristol and beyond.
- We support internal dialogue about the understanding of, and shared values in addressing white privilege, seeking to eradicate awarding gaps, and calling out misguided practices.
Decolonising my reading list campaign
The 'Decolonising my reading list' campaign has now restarted for the 22/23 academic year. It is brought to you by the Library and Students' Union. We aim to ensure that the library collection and reading lists speak to all voices, particularly those that are traditionally underrepresented in curricula and on reading lists. We are inviting everyone at UWE Bristol to suggest diverse authors that can be added to the library collection and reading lists.
This is a collaborative project between students, teaching staff and the library team to create decolonised and inclusive reading lists to better represent the identities and experiences of our student body.
This campaign doesn’t aim to eliminate white men from your curriculum, instead, it focuses on challenging the longstanding bias which limits how we understand learning, politics, society and the world around us. When the reading lists offered to our students are white male dominated, this exposes our students to a skewed perspective on who is an intellectual authority and who deserves attention. Our aim is to ensure all students can see themselves reflected in the curriculum they are being taught and to be able to identify with sector leaders regardless of their background and from all backgrounds.
- This will contribute to the University's strategy to eliminate the Black, Asian and minority ethnic awarding gap.
- Involves students as partners in co-creating their reading list.
- Helps staff who don't know how or where to start decolonising their reading lists.
- Get a chance to win a voucher in our monthly prize draw.
How can I suggest a title for my reading list?
- Research diverse authors you would like to see on your reading list. Authors must be highly-knowledgeable in their field.
- Consult with your Subject Librarian, module leaders and lecturers.
- Complete the request form.
- You will then be entered into a monthly prize draw to win a voucher.
Once approved by your module leader or lecturer, the book will be added to your reading list.
The Zine Project
The Students’ Union and the Library at UWE Bristol have been working together since 2020 to create a platform for students to share their experiences and thoughts related to the topics of decolonisation and diversity.
The zine provides a cross-disciplinary platform for students and staff to share their stories, comments, views on diversity at UWE Bristol and beyond, with a strong focus on decolonisation. Being cross-disciplinary allows readers to gain awareness of how diversity (or the lack of it) affects all parts of our society.
What you can do
- Read it and share it. Once you have read the zine, please share it with your course mates, colleagues and friends within and beyond UWE Bristol.
- Give us feedback on the zine with a chance to win a voucher.
We have a dedicated team working on the No More Silence zine with colleagues across the Library and the Students’ Union. Please get in touch with us at email@example.com, we are happy to answer any questions about the project you may have.
If you would like to hear from any previous contributors, we can put you in touch.
*By decolonisation, we mean that it is, at its most basic, the undoing of colonialism, meaning institutionally and individually acknowledging that the impacts of colonialism are prevalent and taking action. Colonisation and resultant white privilege are about structures and power. As a consequence, this has contributed to the awarding gaps between White and Black and Asian Minority Ethnic students. UWE Bristol 2030 Strategy is looking at eradicating the awarding gaps between groups of students. Steve West (2020), Vice-Chancellor, explains that: “for undergraduate students at UWE, getting a 1st or 2:1 degree (good honours) varies with ethnicity, age, disability, and where the student lived before university.”
Support for teaching staff
If you're a staff member interested in decolonising and diversifying your module reading lists, you can find more information on the staff intranet in the Inclusive Curriculum and Practice toolkit collection.
You can also contact your Subject Librarian for support.
Why is this important?
People of Black heritage have for centuries contributed immensely to knowledge and societal development, many of these contributions have been hidden, lost or ignored. As a result, this has impacted the experiences of Black heritage communities in professional spaces and in society. The has led to a lack of representation in the academy and other professional environments, a lack of progression into senior roles and a significant awarding gap among others.
To change this, we need more action and less words. This collection brings to life the stories of excellence and the many ways Black heritage professionals in the College of Health, Science and Society at UWE Bristol are shaping the future of their diverse fields and making their mark in society, shaping futures and what will be our collective history.
The Decolonising the Library project team is working on multiple pilot projects, from reviewing our teaching content, to working with college colleagues on decolonising their reading lists and other local initiatives.
There is always more we can do and would love to hear from you. If you are working on a project and/or have an idea of a project related to the library, contact your Subject Librarian.
Please email Ludovik Sebire at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in joining this group.