A group of students at the University of York have started a campaign to address the lack of diversity within the taught content of British universities.
The campaign ‘Why is My Curriculum White?’ was originally started at UCL and challenges what it sees as a western-led narrative.
Tamaki Laycock, co-founder of the campaign in York, explained that the campaign’s main focus was on compulsory first-year modules, as “they’re the modules that everyone has to attend”.
She believes that if people are exposed to an array of thoughts in their first year it would enable them to develop a more diverse attitude to their subjects in general, and encourage them to explore various perspectives within their time at York. Laycock added: “I think having someone that looks like you in something you study is definitely encouraging because it tells you ‘I’m supposed to be in academia. I’m not just studying all these great thinkers who don’t look like me at all’.”
Kate Dodd, Academic Registrar, said: “The University has embarked on reviewing our curriculum and pedagogy and our commitment to internationalising the curriculum is one of the things we are holding in view as we do this … Our annual Learning and Teaching Conference will include among its themes considering diversity and inclusivity in module content and programme design, and considering unconscious bias in teaching.
“The process of approving a new programme includes showing how the programme content addresses how the curriculum encourages students to develop cross cultural capabilities, and how it promotes awareness of international issues, context and cultures.”