Decolonize Your Syllabus | University of Portland

Decolonize Your Syllabus

The Gender and Women Studies (GWS) program is actively seeking to create a curriculum that provides a wider variety of voices and perspectives, particularly those that have been historically marginalized and silenced. In essence, we would like all of the classes taught in our program to attend to this learning outcome by decolonizing their syllabus.

We understand decolonization as the identification, interrogation, and dismantling of power structures that carry legacies of racism, imperialism, and colonialism in the production of knowledge. By decolonizing our syllabi, we make a conscious effort to change the way we understand how and where knowledge is produced. Our program contests the assumption that white, western intellectual traditions are superior, or yet universal.

Decolonizing syllabi must not take the form of tokenism or fetishization. We recognize that simply including diverse voices into a classroom climate that otherwise lacks sufficient support for understanding power structures in the production of knowledge is also problematic. It is not enough to merely assign indigenous and/or minority writings, for example; rather a syllabus that includes these voices and shows how your discipline benefits from and perpetuates colonialism is a much more apt route. Ideally, this decolonizing process is labor that is discussed with students and is activist-oriented, meaning it works to actually change the way faculty and students alike approach knowledge and systems in and outside of the classroom.

Beginning in Fall 2020, the GWS program will invite updated and decolonized syllabi for any current classes listed in our curriculum. At that time, and because decolonization is now a learning outcome for our minors, we will be reconsidering all classes for inclusion in the minor using this requirement. We invite all to take this important step with us and hope to model a way of contributing to the internationalization of the UP community.

Here are some additional resources:

Keele Manifesto

Decolonize Education

Decolonising SOAS Vision

Decolonizing Your Syllabus - You Might Have Missed Some Steps