Diversifying the Curriculum


A PESE2 Inclusive, Multi-Modal Learning Environment Project

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What is Diversifying the Curriculum?

Diversifying the Curriculum was a workstrand of the University's PESE2 Inclusive, Multi-Modal Learning Environment project (2015 - 2017). It responded to the established need to further facilitate the implementation of inclusivity and its concomitant Black and Minority Ethnic (BME/BAME) diversity in teaching and learning. This workstrand of the PESE2 project aims to bridge the gap between theory and practice by enabling those involved in the design, delivery, assessment, evaluation, review, reporting and management of taught programmes to make increased and sustained representation a permanent part of what they do. By increasing the visibility of BME/BAME figures and influences in academic knowledge, BME/BAME students can be given a sense of belonging to academia and all students can benefit from an enriched learning experience as well as more opportunities to meaningfully engage in achieving the Brookes Core Attributes.


Beyond a Month: Embedding BME/BAME Diversity into Taught Content.

This filmed panel discussion took place in December 2016 at Oxford Brookes University. The panel included teaching staff from Oxford Brookes University, the University of Reading and the University of Warwick. The panelists discussed the deficit in higher education and its ramifications on BME/BAME student engagement and student experience. The panel also considered the different ways in which changes to pedagogical and institutional practices can be effected in order for BME/BAME diversity to be successfully embedded into taught content.

Key terms

Within the literature, the terms decolonising the curriculum and internationalising the curriculum are at times used interchangeably with diversifying the curriculum. Whilst the former often refers to the legacy of empire and how it continues to shape how knowledge is produced, circulated and reproduced, the latter commonly refers to the inclusion of academic publications from the Global South on course reading lists. For some decolonising the curriculum is seen as being less open to commodification and co-option than diversifying the curriculum.

For the purposes of this project, diversifying the curriculum is defined as being a means of asking educators to look at their teaching practices and syllabi again, and identify where there is little to no focus on BME/BAME figures and influences in academic knowledge despite their existence as well as to consider where certain narratives result in a hidden curriculum - the unintended and/or unacknowledged learning that takes place during a course of study, which can unwittingly lead to the 'absorption of attitudes, values and perspectives' (Higher Education Academy, 2017). Diversifying the curriculum also calls for BME/BAME diversity in taught content to become integral to the norms of course design, delivery and assessment rather than mainly being experienced by students as standalone content or as an extra-curricula activity.

For the purposes of this project, all three terms are seen to refer to important forms of critical thinking and collectively call for increased awareness that courses which position BME/BAME related subjects in limited narratives, and do so with high frequency can contribute towards giving content to stereotypes.


In Ovid’s poem The Metamorphoses, written in 8 AD, Andromeda was originally described as a black African princess. This image of the princess in Greek mythology comes from a print made in 1731 by Bernard Picart.

Source: Wikigallery used under the public domain.

Project aims

The aims below are considered to be the salient features of any work that involves diversifying curricula (it is understood that this work can be done in course-appropriate ways):

  • increase the visibility of BME/BAME representation in Western contexts;
  • improve critical thinking by using taught content to build conceptual frameworks to prevent unconscious bias and challenge assumptions;
  • provide varied biographic references (spoken, visual and printed) in taught content;
  • sustain work to internationalise reading lists;
  • enable all students to gain further insight into their fields of study by looking at a subject through a wider range of lenses (e.g. historical, legal, ethical, cultural, social or political dimensions).

Prof Maqsudul Alam (1954 – 2014).

Bangladeshi scientist responsible for achieving four milestones in plant and fungus genome sequencing.

Source: The Report24

What does this site offer?

This site provides open access to a growing pedagogic toolkit, including: discipline-specific and cross-disciplinary teaching and learning materials; links to relevant publications and reports from the United Kingdom and other parts of the world; links to websites dedicated to supporting equality, diversity and inclusivity in higher education; a range of good practice guides that can be used to inform pedagogical and institutional practices.

William Cuffay (1788 – 1870).

Prominent black British leader in the British Chartist movement (1837 – 1848).

Source: National Archives

Who is the site for?

This website should be of particular use to higher education professionals (teaching and non-teaching) and diversity practitioners who are involved in course design, delivery, assessment, evaluation, management, review reporting and/or management.

Teacher Training

In semester 2 of the academic year 2016 - 2017, all teaching staff and diversity practitioners are invited to attend workshops aimed at providing a space to discuss BME/BAME diversity and the theory and practice behind embedding it into taught content in course-appropriate ways. Please visit the Teacher Training webpage for further details.

A webinar for new members of staff will also be available via OCSLD from August 2017.

In order to ensure that the end products of this project respond to the needs of teaching staff, all teaching staff are encouraged to attend the teacher training workshops as the outcomes of the discussions that take place there will shape the content of the webinar and this website.

HeLa cells

The world of science and medicine has made a number of breakthroughs (e.g. the creation of the polio vaccine in 1951) due to the immortal HeLa cell line taken from the African American woman Henrietta Lacks (1920 - 1951). Her family's present-day litigation reflects wider concerns about data protection, and the rights over cell ownership as well as the subsequent financial rewards derived from commercially lucrative cell-based research.

Source: HeLa Cells used under CC0.