Skip to Main Content

Diversify and decolonise your reading lists

How to encourage your students to get involved

woman standing by a shelf of books in a library, reading a book

There are a range of ways that you could encourage the students to engage with your reading list and make their own recommendations! 

Here are a few ideas to get you thinking and exploring the idea. You could look at exploring these ideas at different times in the module:

As the module begins:

- Discuss with the students who have been the key thinkers, writers and creators of knowledge within the field. Explore with the students which narratives and voices are missing. 

As the module progresses and the students become more knowledgeable on the subject:

- Invite the students to recommend resources related to specific topics within your module. 

- Ask students to write reviews or even guidance notes for some of the newer items on the reading list. This will not only deepen their own understanding but will create a peer-led resource for other students.

During evaluation:

- Ask the students for feedback on your source selection in your module evaluation questionnaires. 

Ask the student what they would recommend to students wanting to take the module next year or did they find new resources during research that they would recommend?

We understand that finding time to do try something new and challenging can be difficult but collaboration can help use discover new insights. Get chatting to find out more!

What are the benefits of co-curation?

Collaborating with students is a rich opportunity to find out what they think about your module and source selection.

Talking about information, sources, writers and creators is a way to help encourage the students to engage and help decide what should be explored, why the subject canon is the canon, what voices are missing and broaden awareness of sources.

This conference paper from Northumbria University discusses a project working with students from Computer and Information Science and Criminology Departments to co-create reading lists. 

Co-creation projects

  Activity: Find out more about how co-curation has been practically applied in the classroom.

Has the library tried this approach?

We were involved in the #DecolHallam: Belonging, inclusion and Equity project.

The project was led by colleagues in Academic Development & Diversity and we were invited into the project to run two workshops with the students related to decolonising and diversifying reading lists.

This is the project outline:

The #DecolHallam project centred on the experiences of ethnically minoritised students from across the University. The project aims to measure the cultural sensitivity and accessibility of our curricula. This information will then be used to support staff to implement curriculum interventions so students from ethnically minoritised groups have equitable opportunities for success. It seeks to identify those aspects of curricula which are key to students developing a sense of belonging and engagement with their learning and improving their experience and attainment.

Project overview

The #DecolHallam project consisted of a team of student researchers, Academic Development & Diversity and Library staff. The project activities focused on:

  • Department-based focus groups led by student researchers to understand the lived experience across the student lifecycle.
  • The deployment of the National Evaluating and Researching University Participating Interventions (NERUPI) Culturally Sensitive Curriculum Scales (CSCS) survey – a race-focused instrument developed to assess the ‘whiteness’ of the curriculum as a basis for further inquiry. The survey has a specific focus on Health and Social Science subject areas.
  • An evaluation of course materials from the virtual learning environment ‘Blackboard’ for their accessibility and inclusivity.
  • A pilot study, working in partnership with the Students Union and Library Services, to decolonise online reading lists. 

You can find an example of one of the reading list activities we used in the workshops.