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Practical Tools for Improving Teaching, Research, and Scholarship

Despite progress, the Western higher education system is still largely dominated by scholars from the privileged classes of the Global North. This book presents examples of efforts to diversify points of view, include previously excluded people, and decolonize curricula.

What has worked? What hasn’t? What further visions do we need? How can we bring about a more democratic and just academic life for all?

Written by scholars from different disciplines, countries, and backgrounds, this book offers an internationally relevant, practical guide to ‘doing diversity’ in the social sciences and humanities and decolonising higher education as a whole.

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The editors reflect on both the volume and the extraordinary times in which it was finalized, with the project beginning about a year before the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the world, and completing just as the wealthy democracies began to reap the benefit of the vaccines that they had both developed and hoarded. COVID-19 highlighted the same lines of inequality that afflict higher education: elites benefit while others fall behind. The virus hit working-class and minority communities harder as it spread along the same globally connected trade routes that once brought sugar, spices, and slaves to benefit European and American upper classes. The editors argue that decolonization is important on two levels: those of justice and of knowledge. Change needs to happen at three levels: to universities and their curricula, to scholarship, and to the institutions that both support and structure academic life. The issue, the editors conclude, is not the programmes themselves, but the use to which they are consciously or unconsciously put.

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The editors introduce the volume’s objectives and contributors, synthesizing the new knowledge that is emerging and commenting on remaining gaps. They address ideas of diversity, inclusion, and decolonization beyond global North universities, thinking about other scholarly institutions in the global South and comparing the kinds of issues raised in the chapters. Accepting that diverse views about diversity and identity politics also exist, the editors review several opposing perspectives that may generate productive debate and augment interest in the volume. The chapter proposes ways in which both theory and practice can change and highlights the challenges that remain.

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