Category Archives: Equity, Diversity and Belonging

Decolonising higher education curricula: Authentic guiding narratives from academic and learner communities

My colleague Dr Theresa Nicholson presented this powerful call to action on Decolonising our STEM Curricula at EuroSoTL 2022 last week. For those who weren’t able to attend, or who asked for the slides, you can access them via the link below.

The project drew on student diaries and stories from scholars to develop a compelling argument for decolonising all our curricula in Higher Education.

In the Student Diary Project, Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic
undergraduate student diaries provide powerful, personal perspectives that underpin the need for decolonising. These first year students draw on personal experiences of ‘otherness’ and cultural difference, as well as advocating a range of practical measures. In Stories from Scholars, academic narratives provide an insight into ‘teacher’ perspectives on decolonising. Collectively, these demonstrate an understanding of the transformational value of the process, not only for curricula, but
also for individual students and wider society. There is considerable commonality between these two community narratives, though students seem less aware of the potential benefits of decolonising on their own personal role in future society. Authentic community narratives such as these provide compelling evidence that will
help persuade, engage, and guide academic and learner partnerships in their decolonising activity.

We also developed an easy to use yet comprehensive decolonising toolkit specifically for STEM disciplines, which was co-created with our students, and which is now publically available here

Many Faces of Science and Engineering

The aim of the Many Faces project was to showcase the diversity of talent within and across our Science and Engineering disciplines at Manchester Metropolitan University.  The project generated a highly diverse and visual set of role models for students, with the aim of raising our students’ aspirations, confidence and sense of belonging in the Faculty. In this Advance HE Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Conference 2022 Presentation, we showcased the optimism, inspiration and ambition of our Manchester Metropolitan Science and Engineering students, staff and alumni by sharing the posters, social media posts and videos that comprise the “Many Faces” campaign.  We also shared how to replicate such a campaign and also provide ideas as to how to maximise its impact (for example embedding it in personal tutoring discussions, graduate skills and employability sessions and at open days)

To hear more about the project watch this short video I made here,

The Many Faces of Science and Engineering is a highly visual campaign whose aim was to bring centre stage the talents, the experiences and the ambitions of often underrepresented groups of students including disabled, Black Asian and Minority Ethnic, and LGBTQ students.  Flowing through the project are the voices and lived experiences of often marginalised groups in society.  Indeed, the campaign was developed and led by one of our own recent alumni and all the materials were co-created by the “Faces” themselves. The project has directly sought to showcase role models for students, to address the 2020 call made by Professor Paul Miller for students to be able to say “I see you, I hear you, I belong”  

Example Campaign Poster

Whilst there have been other campaigns that have showcased diversity in STEM disciplines ( for example the Royal Society of Chemistry’s 175 Faces of Chemistry in 2016), our campaign was innovative in that the “Faces” were overwhelmingly our own students, our own members of staff and our own alumni, telling their own stories, sharing their own ambitions and offering invaluable advice for the next generation of Man Met students.  In doing the project, we are also now able to maximise its ongoing impact and the changes it has effected by using the posters and profiles of the “Faces” to underpin Personal Tutoring and Employability activities across the Faculty. 

For a flavour of the Many Faces Campaign and to inspire you please have a look our Many Faces website, or watch these short student videos