Students’ support for curriculum diversification

Our group has published some work on British students perceptions of curriculum decolonisation. The research shows there is broad support for this – which makes sense. Students rarely sign up to study the psychology-, history- or another subject exclusive to Westerners. It complements other research from the British National Union of Students (2012; 2019) and the wider ‘Why Is My Curriculum White’ movement advocating for change.

Below includes the research, an infographic highlighting student support for anti-racist actions and two reflections from BSc Psychology students on their curriculums.

Gillborn, S, H Woolnough, G S Jankowski, and R. Sandle. ‘“Intensely White”: Psychology Curricula and the (Re)Production of Racism’. Educational Review 0, no. 0 (12 October 2021): 1–20.

Jankowski, G. S. ‘Students’ Understanding and Support for Anti‐racism in Universities’. British Journal of Social Psychology 61, no. 1 (January 2022): 322–44.

NUS and Universities UK. ‘Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic Student Attainment at UK Universities: #closingthegap’. Universities UK, May 2019.

NUS. ‘Race for Equality: A Report on the Experiences of Black Students in Further and Higher Education.’ Winning the Arguments, 2012.

Below are two student reflections on studying a White, Western psychology curriculum.

“When I try to think of anti-racist content during my years studying psychology, the first thing that comes to mind is the Prejudice lectures we studied in Social Psychology. They were informative on “new racism”, including modern racism, symbolic racism, aversive racism and subtle racism, and old-fashioned racism. I really think that this is important for my learning and for the rest of the students, as it makes us prepare more for the future, in the due case that we want to support BAME clients. However, I still think that we should continue fighting to make the Psychology curriculum more diverse, and not so WESTERN focused. I also think that it is something that teachers should talk to each other, so that the articles/key reading that we have studied are made by BAME people, or the psychologists that we study are BAME, since there is little diversity in the majority that we have studied. On the other hand, this affects me personally since I am an ethnic minority. I am Ecuadorian, and in these years that I have been studying psychology, both in college and in the university, I haven’t studied any psychologist who has a Latino origin. I would definitely like to see more representation of Latinos in the psychology curriculum, especially in the psychology taught at university. It must be noted that just because I haven’t seen representation of Latinos in the psychology curriculum, it doesn’t mean that there aren’t Latino Psychologists, I am sure that there are, and that they are doing important studies, research,  and creating an impact within the psychology field, and as a Latina woman I hope to create an impact within the psychology field in the future as well. Another thing that I would like to highlight is that I am bilingual, my native language is Spanish, and I speak English since I studied it since primary school. When a person is bilingual, I think that the rest of the people who are not, forget that being bilingual does not mean that we’re capable of translating anything from one language to another. People should bear in mind that there are certain expressions or words that cannot be translated, I think there will always be a small barrier between languages”. by Pierinna Da Luca (BSc Psychology, 2024). 

As a white undergraduate psychology student, I joined psychology for the reason most do; pop
culture portrays it as an interesting topic surrounding serial killers and mental health but does
not show the important background to psychology that includes many psychologists of colour.
When I first started my degree, we had a module about racism and psychology and I was
intrigued to learn about how psychology has inherently racist topics and studies and how
underrepresented BAME psychologists and studies are. The topic of racism has always been at
the forefront of my mind as I believe in myself that I am not racist, but from educating myself
further about the struggles of not just racism and psychology but overall, I have learnt that it is
important to be anti-racist and to call out and be aware of any racist incidents. Luvvie Ajayi says
“We can’t have an honest reckoning about race until we start to recognize all the ways in which
privilege and prejudice creep into our lives”. This is important, especially in psychology where it
revolves around people, why they do things and how life shapes us. I believe that my university
(Leeds Beckett) provides resources that include BAME psychologists and studies such as
Robert Guthrie’s “Even the rat was white” book which questioned racism in psychology. but I do
not think there is enough still. When I did a study regarding race in my social psychology
module I found it difficult to find studies regarding BAME participants, this shows how
underrepresented studies regarding BAME people are, the only ones I could find were American
so as a British student, it would be more representative if it was easily accessible to find studies
about British BAME participants. From taking part in a placement regarding racism in
psychology, I have found out so many things about amazing BAME psychologists that I wish
were taught in my degree, for example, Mamie and Kenneth Clark who helped to stop
segregation in schools with their doll study” ~by Carla House (BSc Psychology, 2024). 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s