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Summary of Week 3

This summarises the week's activities.
Children doing science

After navigating the previous sections, it is clear that decolonising science and medicine requires a collaborative effort. We have covered a lot of topics, ranging from the historical record of science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and medicine, establishing the links between colonialism and the foundations of these subjects. We have shown also that some of these ideas have persisted to the present day, and if not left unchecked have a danger of them seeping in to our digital world. The concepts of colonialism did not die with a loss of Empire, and industrial colonialism and more recently digital colonialism have real propensity to continue systemic racism. It is imperative that we take an anti-racist approach to decolonisation. In essence, these practical subjects warrant a practical form of decolonisation, resulting in real outcomes for recipients of technology, science and medicine.

Sometimes in the sciences there is resistance to wanting to decolonise, based on the idea that science is objective and neutral. Daniel Akinbosede makes the point that integrating the injustices that permeate scientific disciplines into the scientific curriculum could actually engender a learning environment that is more engaging. But the question remains, how is it that decolonisation can be integrated into science, engineering, mathematics, and medicine?

In the short term, the presentation of the context behind some of the topics covered this week, such as context for figures who defined the work taught and the climate at the time that led to such advances in these fields should be a necessary step to challenge the perspective that is an unbiased field and thus to decolonising the curriculum. Including different perspectives in the field such as work by research groups that are not from the UK/US could open students to non-Western ideas and methods. But most of all, engaging with Black, Asian and Ethnic Minority students about the content which is taught is a direct source of finding out whether any potential criticisms of the curriculum which is viewed from a different perspective and whether any lecture content is viewed as being harmful. We need to do this if we have a hope of encouraging young Black, Asian and Minority ethnic children to become the scientists, the engineers, the mathematicians and medical practitioners of the future.

© University of Bristol
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Decolonising Education: From Theory to Practice

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