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All inclusive: lustrum UG, 5-15 June 2019

Science programme Conference: “Growing together: Celebrating diversity and fostering inclusion”

Glenn Adams

Glenn Adams
Glenn Adams

A Decolonial Curriculum: Who needs it?

How is the university a colonial form, such that it requires decolonization? A common understanding of the university’s colonial character is imperial imposition: the enforcement of particular understandings, associated with Euro-American modernity, upon racialized communities in the Global South.

In response to this form of epistemic violence, a common understanding of decolonization is Indigenous resistance: people working in (post-)colonial spaces to re-assert local forms of knowledge more suitable for local purposes. Yet, the colonial character of the university is not limited to cases of imperial imposition; it also is inherent in the modern ways of knowing that inform notions of optimality and progress.

The institutionalization of these modern/colonial understandings in the global university reproduces epistemic violence via elevation to the status of hegemonic truth. From this perspective, a decolonial curriculum must (also) reveal and disrupt colonial delusions that constitute the modern/colonial university—forms of White knowledge/ignorance that threaten the future of the planet and its inhabitants.

The foundation for this decolonial curriculum is the idea of theory/epistemology from the South: not (just) a change in whom students think about, but (also) a change in epistemic location or where students think from.

Glenn Adams is Professor of Psychology at the University of Kansas, where he is director of the Cultural Psychology Research Group and has served in a variety of leadership positions with the Kansas African Studies Center.

His engagement with African settings began as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Sierra Leone, where he served for three years as a secondary school mathematics teacher before completing his Ph.D. in Social Psychology at Stanford University.

His graduate training included two years of fieldwork in Ghana, which provided the empirical foundation for his dissertation and subsequent research on cultural-psychological foundations of relationality.

His engagements with African settings and collaborations with Latin American scholars have fueled his interest in Southern epistemologies and decolonial approaches to knowledge.

Last modified:03 May 2019 1.04 p.m.
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