Decolonising the curriculum
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are advised that this page contains content that may be culturally sensitive
Decolonising sits within Critical Pedagogical approaches to learning and teaching. This page is designed to introduce staff at Curtin to some of the basic approaches to Decolonising their curriculum and research in a broad sense. We hope the content below provides some direction for further research as it suits your own journey and discipline needs.
In this British/UK perspective, Decolonising the English curriculum is about understanding and undoing mythologies. Priyamvada Gopal argues we need to challenge the idea that some cultures are the ‘givers’ and the ‘teachers’, and others are the ‘takers’ and the ‘taught’. We need access to other narratives.
Priyamvada Gopal is University Reader in Anglophone and Related Literatures in the Faculty of English at the University of Cambridge and Fellow Churchill College. She is the author of Literary Radicalism in India: Gender, Nation and the Transition to Independence (2005) and The Indian English Novel: Nation, History and Narration (2009).
Glossary of Key Terms
We start this page off with a Glossary of key terms to help with understanding common terminology within this space.
|Brokerage||The importance of relationship – make this the foundation of all you do. Building relationships is important, taking the time to develop connections, meeting face to face, providing time.|
|Critical race theory||Is a social movement which theorises that the construct of ‘race’ is a culturally invented category used to oppress or exploit people and that ‘institutional racism’ reinforced by this cultural norm is inherent in the law and legal institutions of the land, facilitating and maintaining social, economic and political inequalities between ‘races’.|
|Cultural Awareness||A philosophical approach and way of operating which is sensitive to the unique cultural needs and differences of individuals and groups.|
|Cultural Competency||Demonstrating awareness of the cultural difference that exist between groups and accepting these differences. Being aware of and questioning your own assumptions and behaviours.|
|Cultural Safety||Cultural safety goes beyond cultural awareness and competence by ensuring shared meaning, shared knowledge and shared dignity. Cultural safety creates an environment where people are inherently safe and protected.|
|Decolonising||Recognising and actively working against the structural Euro-centric basis of academic disciplines, research and curriculum. Interrogating and challenging the historical legacies of dominant, Western forms of knowledge and knowledge creation.|
|Indigenising||Working towards and enacting the process of developing and delivering curricula that reflects the presence of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and local indigenous knowledges. Transforming spaces, assessment practices, curriculum delivery and teaching so as to naturalise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander approaches to learning.|
|Intersectionality||Recognising the ways in which individual personal identities intersect to expose people to overlapping forms of discrimination and acknowledging the links to structural systems of power and privilege.|
|Third Space||Shared understanding where and when BOTH groups have made changes in their thinking and practices that then enable them to find solutions that are beneficial to all concerned.|
Decolonising curriculum and research takes time. It is a journey of increasing understanding and empathy which leads to action. Action is necessary; it is OK to start small, but over time, consider the unit/course review process as a chance to make larger change where appropriate.
The resources below may provide a starting point to help guide you on your journey. They include content from local, national and international research, with ideas that can apply to different learning, teaching and research contexts, highlighting the universal nature of decolonising.
Resources and PD opportunities
This collection of resources and further reading have been curated from recommendations from the Roadshow in early 2023, plus consultations with staff from Center for Aboriginal Studies (CAS), Center for Human Rights Education (CHRE) and the Cultural Capability team.
You can use the search tool to curtate what you see in this table by the keywords below, or just browse through the resources. Each resource is labelled with International, Australia or WA focus indicator.
|Methodologies, Australia||8 Aboriginal Ways of Learning||This Aboriginal pedagogy framework is expressed as eight interconnected pedagogies involving narrative-driven learning, visualised learning processes, hands-on/reflective techniques, use of symbols/metaphors, land-based learning, indirect/synergistic logic, modelled/scaffolded genre mastery, and connectedness to community. But these can change in different settings.||The 8 Ways framework is a NSW Department of Education initiative.|
Grounded in PhD work by Tyson Yunkaporta
|8 Ways website
|Knowledge building, WA||Aboriginal collections||Portal to the Libraries collections of: Storylines; Indigenous oral history; Music, stories and more.||Curated by State library of Western Australia||State Library WA|
|Australia||AIATSIS Map of Indigenous Australia||This map shows the Language groups, Tribes and Nations present on this islands pre-colonisation this island was made up of many different Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australia groups, different and distinct, each with their own culture, customs, language and laws.||The Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS)||AIATSIS|
|Knowledge building, Australia||Australian Human Rights Commission||A culturally safe and secure environment is one where our people feel safe|
and draw strength in their identity, culture and community.
|Australian Human Rights Commission||Social Justice Report: Ch 4|
|Knowledge building, Australia, International||Cultural Competence and the Higher Education Sector: Dilemmas, Policies and Practice||Bring together specialists and individuals interested in cultural competence, diversity and inclusion and Indigenous Knowledges to discuss ideas relating to the future of higher education and the role of Universities in preparing students, faculties and staff for the challenges of building a more culturally competent world.||Jack Frawley, Gabrielle Russell, |
|Professional Development (PD), WA||Dandjoo Kaadadjiny (Learning together)||We’ll explore some principles of Aboriginal culture, local knowledge that you can see around you, plus some Indigenous heroes both in history and active today. Write your own Acknowledgement of Country.||CAS||Challenge platform|
|Methodologies, WA||Debakarn Koorliny Wangkiny: steady walking and talking using first nations-led participatory action research methodologies to build relationships||Our article begins with an overview of the APAR literature and pays homage to the decolonising scholarship that champions Aboriginal ways of knowing, being, and doing.||Michael Wright,Tiana Culbong,Michelle Webb,Amanda Sibosado,Tanya Jones,Tilsa Guima Chinen & Margaret O'Connell||https://www.tandfonline.com/|
|Methodologies, International||Decolonial Methodologies in Education.||This resource encompasses a series of methods/strategies as they take place within education projects. Here, education is defined broadly to include both formal and nonformal educational spaces. Education is not used loosely as decolonial scholars have conflated the terms educational...||Zavala, M.||SpringerLink|
|Methodologies, International||Decolonising Higher Education in the Era of Globalisation and Internationalisation.||This collection of essays brings to the on-going discourse on decolonisation fresh, rich, probing and multilayered perspectives that should accelerate the process of decolonisation, not only in higher education in Africa, but also in the global imaginary.||Fomunyam, K. G.||Curtin Library|
|Knowledge building, Student perspective, Video, Australia||Decolonising higher education: First Nations student perspectives in Australia||First Nations students at RMIT shared their perspectives on how universities can promote inclusion and Indigenous perspectives at the recent UNESCO World Higher Education Conference in Barcelona, Spain.||RMIT University||RMIT|
|Methodologies, Australia and New Zealand||Decolonising Methodologies: Research and Indigenous Peoples||This essential volume explores intersections of imperialism and research - specifically, the ways in which imperialism is embedded in disciplines of knowledge and tradition as 'regimes of truth.' Concepts such as 'discovery' and 'claiming' are discussed and an argument presented that the decolonization of research methods will help to reclaim control over indigenous ways of knowing and being.||Linda Tuhiwai Smith||Bloomsbury.com|
|Methodologies, International||Decolonising Nature: contemporary art and the politics of ecology||This text offers a significant, original contribution to the intersecting fields of art history, ecology, visual culture, geography, and environmental politics. |
Art historian T.J. Demos, author of Return to the Postcolony: Specters of Colonialism in Contemporary Art (2013), considers the creative proposals of artists and activists for ways of life that bring together ecological sustainability, climate justice, and radical democracy, at a time when such creative proposals are urgently needed.
|Demos, T. J.||Curtin Library|
|Activity, Knowledge building, International||Decolonising SOAS Learning and Teaching Toolkit|
for Programme and Module Convenors
|The SOAS toolkit supports the decolonising process through questioning ‘… how to overcome the intellectual limits and structural disadvantages embedded in current curricula and pedagogies., Pg. 6. Includes practical examples and applications.||School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London||SOAS-Learning-and-Teaching-Toolkit-AB.pdf|
|Knowledge building, Video, International||Decolonising the Curriculum through the History of Mathematics||As part of Black History Month, June Barrow-Green and Brigitte Stenhouse gave a presentation in which they explored how historical sources can be used to decolonise the mathematics curriculum.||June Barrow-Green and Brigitte Stenhouse||OpenLearn.edu|
|Knowledge building, International||From inclusion to transformation to decolonisation||reflects on the endeavour of decolonising the curriculum, and how the process begins with developing reflexive, inclusive, and transformative pedagogical practices.||Professor Rowena Arshad and Pushpi Bagchi||https://www.teaching-matters-blog.ed.ac.uk/|
|Methodologies, Video, Australia||Holistic approach to Indigenous studies||This teaching and learning framework, which acknowledges Indigenous peoples’ holistic view of their world, including the interrelatedness of land, language and culture, and how this can be embedded in curriculum and pedagogy.||Jirrbal Elder, Uncle Ernie Grant||
The Holistic Planning and Teaching Framework
|Event, WA||Indian Ocean Craft Triennial||The 2024 evet theme of 'Codes in Parallel' presenting a broad diversity of craft practices by Western Australian-based and Indian Ocean artists at other major institutions, artist-run collectives, regional galleries, local government arts facilities, and in craft-specific workshops and studios.||Exhibition partners Fremantle Arts Centre and John Curtin Gallery||Indian Ocean Craft Triennial|
|Professional Development (PD), Knowledge building, WA,||Indigenous Cultural Capabilities Framework (ICCF)||Three phases of Cultural Immersion Experiences designed to help develop an in-depth understanding and appreciation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural practices, knowledge and history. All experiences are available for staff to enrol into through iPerform.||Curtin Cultural Capability team||Cultural Immersion Experiences|
|Regulation, Australia||Indigenous Strategy 2022-25||The 2022-25 Indigenous Strategy builds upon its predecessor, shifting gears from aspiration to implementation.||Universities Australia||UA-Indigenous-Strategy-2022-25.pdf|
|Video, Australia||Inspirational Indigenous Australian TedX talks||This is a list from 2016, of all the Indigenous mob we could find who have TEDx videos online. If we have missed anyone please let us know and we will update it.||By Luke Pearson on the IndigenousX website||Inspirational Indigenous Australian TedX talks|
|Professional Development (PD), WA||Intro to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People & Culture||This module is an introductory pathway to the University's learning and teaching space. includes suggestions as to where staff can access information for embedding Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander knowledge into curriculum.||Curtin Uni||iPerform|
|Professional Development (PD), Video, WA||Noongar Language and Culture||Learn about the Noongar people of Western Australia, their culture and their language.||Curtin EdX MOOC||
Video: Noongar Language and Culture
|Knowledge building, WA||Nulungu Research Institute||Nulungu Research Institute is a Kimberley-based organisation of collaborating Aboriginal and non-Indigenous researchers, each with extensive practical and theoretical knowledge.||University of Notre Dame||Nulungu institute
|Knowledge building, Australia||Practice what you preach : creating partnerships and decolonising the social work curriculum||This article is a critical reflection on the work of two non-Indigenous social work educators and our attempts to decolonise our teaching practice at Western Sydney University (WSU).||Al-Natour, R. J., & Mears, J.||Curtin Library|
|Activities, Knowledge building, Australia||Resources: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander knowledge||The QCAA has developed a range of materials to support the inclusion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives into the school curriculum.||QCAA (Queensland Curriculum and Assessment Authority)||QCAA resources|
|Knowledge building, Video, International||Rise Documentary||Viewers are taken to the frontlines of global indigenous resistance and introduced to the people intent on resisting colonisation and protecting their homelands.||VICE network||Rise | SBS|
|Knowledge building, Video, Australia||Storying the future: First Nations and education in decolonising Australia||Nulungu’s vision is ‘to conduct exceptional and collaborative research which is transformative, decolonising and of value to Aboriginal people’.||Professor Tracey Bunda, Associate Professor Nikki Moode, Dr Eddie Cubillo, Mr Zack Haddock||UniMelb Law School|
Psychology, Strategy, WA
Psychology Education Project (AIPEP)
|Develop frameworks, guidelines, and strategies to increase the capability of psychology graduates|
to work effectively with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
|Collaborative learning and teaching project led by|
Professor Pat Dudgeon of the University of Western Australia.
|Methodologies, Video, WA||SYNERGIES: Walking Together - Belonging to Country||This film celebrates the remarkable similarities between Nyungar knowledge and Western science. It takes the audience through a 300 million year journey, featuring Nyungar Elder Dr Noel Nannup and Professor Stephen D. Hopper, as they walk the magnificent Swan River from its source to the ocean...||Nyungar Elder Dr Noel Nannup and Professor Stephen D. Hopper, Film by Glen Stasiuk||Video: SYNERGIES: Walking Together - Belonging to Country|
Contemporary reading suggestions
There are a number of popular authors and contemporary books which you can also read. These are a few recommendations:
- Dark Emu by Bruce Pascoe which also has a children’s version.
- Talking to my country by Stan Grant.
- Growing up Aboriginal in Australia edited by Anita Heiss
- Rob Riley: An Aboriginal Leader’s Quest for Justice by Quentin Beresford
- Author and Professor Kim Scott
- My Country, My Life, My Words, edited by Dr Marion Kickett and Tracey Kickett
- The Yield by Tara June Winch
- 50 great reads from First Nations writers and Australian writers of colour in 2021
Bullen, J., & Flavell, H. (2022). Decolonising the indigenised curricula: Preparing Australian graduates for a workplace and world in flux. Higher Education Research & Development, 41(5), 1402-1416
DiAngelo, Robin J (2010) .Why Can’t We All Just Be Individuals?: Countering the Discourse of Individualism in Anti-racist Education. UCLA Journal of Education and Information studies, 6(1).
Grosfoguel, R. (2007). The epistemic decolonial turn: Beyond political-economy paradigms. Cultural studies, 21(2-3), 211-223
Grosfoguel, R. (2013). The structure of knowledge in westernised universities: Epistemic racism/sexism and the four genocides/epistemicides. Human Architecture: Journal of the sociology of self-knowledge, 1.1 p. 73-90.
Mignolo, W. D., & Walsh, C. E. (2018). On decoloniality: concepts, analytics, and praxis. Durham: Duke University Press.
Muller, L. (2003). Decolonisation: More Than a Trendy Word. Australian social work, 76(3), p.295-299.
Woldeyes, Y.G. and Offord, B., 2018. Decolonizing Human Rights Education: Critical Pedagogy Praxis in Higher Education. International Education Journal: Comparative Perspectives, 17(1), pp.24-36.
Zavala, O. 2(016). Narco. The Encyclopedia of Postcolonial Studies, pp.1-6.
Zembylas, M. (2018). Affect, race, and white discomfort in schooling: Decolonial strategies for ‘pedagogies of discomfort’. Ethics and Education, 13(1), pp.86-104.
Connect and Collaborate
if there are others you know about please let us know and we can share them here.
These are national groups that you can participate in with a STEM focus:
- Indigenous Science
- CSIRO Indigenous STEM Education Project
We are hoping to start a Curtin Community of Practice in the near future to share resources, ways of working and connections within the Curtin University.
Feedback or ideas
If you have a suggestion for a key term, resource or element we should add to this introductory site, please let us know via email@example.com