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Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion: Decolonization of the Syllabus

Decolonization of the Syllabus

What is Decolonization of the Syllabus? 

Decolonization of the syllabus describes the process of undoing colonizing practices. It discusses different ways in which we can become more aware about cultural sensitivity and representation, and expecting that college students fit a certain expected stereotype.  Within the educational context, this means confronting and challenging the colonizing practices that have influenced education in the past, and which are still present today.

Decolonizing the syllabus means:

  • reflecting on the structure of educational institutions, and their role within the larger society 
  • confront the power relations within these institutions. Some questions to ask are: Who is in control of knowledge? What is their role? How did they gain this role? What maintains their power?

Perhaps the most essential part of decolonization is continual reflection. Schools should be willing to reflect on curriculum, power dynamics, their own structuring, and any action undertaken on behalf of their students. 

Finally, decolonizing the syllabus means rejecting a one-size-fits-all approach to education in favor of validating students' experiences, fostering their strengths, and educating the whole person- not just the intellect. 

(adapted from 

Decolonization Articles & Resources

Attas, R. (2019). Strategies for Settler Decolonization: Decolonial Pedagogies in a Popular Music Analysis Course. Canadian Journal of Higher Education / Revue canadienne d'enseignement supérieur, 49(1), 125–139.

Behm A; Fryar C; Hunter E; Leake E; Lewis S; Miller-Davenport S. Decolonizing History: Enquiry and Practice. History Workshop Journal. 2020; 89:169–191.

Fuentes MA, Zelaya DG, Madsen JW. Rethinking the Course Syllabus: Considerations for Promoting Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion. Teaching of Psychology. 2021;48(1):69-79. doi:10.1177/0098628320959979.

Millard-Ball A, Desai G, Fahrney J. Diversifying Planning Education through Course Readings. Journal of Planning Education and Research. March 2021. doi:10.1177/0739456X211001936.

Muminah Arshad, Rachel Dada and Cathy Elliott et al. Diversity or decolonization? Searching for the tools to dismantle the ‘master’s house’. London Review of Education. Vol. 19(1). DOI: 10.14324/LRE.19.1.19

Zidani S. Whose pedagogy is it anyway? Decolonizing the syllabus through a critical embrace of difference. Media, Culture & Society. 2021;43(5):970-978. doi:10.1177/0163443720980922.

Decolonization of Syllabus Videos

Decolonization - Further Reading