Why inclusive curriculum design is important, what it may involve, and resources to help you.
Inclusive curriculum is one “Where all students’ entitlement to access and participate in a course is anticipated, acknowledged and taken into account” (Morgan and Houghton 2011).
Why is inclusive curriculum design important?
This is something that applies to every academic discipline and every interdisciplinary programme. Thinking about inclusive curriculum means thinking about how we want our disciplines and professions to be in the future. If we believe that the future flourishing of our areas depends on having the best contributions from a truly diverse range of voices then those voices need to be included from the outset in our course and programme design. This is also a process of thinking about the future professionals we want our learners to be. We want them to work with awareness, knowledge and interpersonal skill when engaging people of different backgrounds, beliefs and values (see Hogan 2007) and we need to provide an education that enables that.
What does inclusive curriculum design involve?
Inclusive curriculum design encompasses all aspects of the learning experience in our courses and programmes. It implies that we design learning experiences from the outset to give all of our students equal opportunity to flourish and to promote active engagement with diversity There are many things we can do to enable this, here are a few examples to get you thinking:
- Diverse modes of learning - online and offline, synchronous and asynchronous - can give more students opportunities to contribute.
- If some groups are under-represented in your subject area at present, could your virtual learning environment include case studies of relevant professionals from those under-represented backgrounds?
- Early formative assessment is beneficial for all learners, but particularly for those who might be feeling less confident in their studies.
- If you are in a subject area which has reading lists, is the authorship of these lists as diverse as it could be?
- Have you thought about where in your programmes students will learn important capacities such as cross-cultural dialogue or avoiding unconscious bias?
Hogan, M. (2007) Four skills of cultural diversity competence: a process for understanding and practice (revised fourth edition). Brooks/Cole Cengage Learning.
It is crucial that our curricula promote inclusion and make all of our diverse students feel welcomed and valued.
Here are some resources to help you think through how to make your curriculum more inclusive:
I found that we only tended to read stuff written by women when it was a course on ‘female issues’, the same for black and minority ethnic people and the same for lesbian, gay, bisexual or trans* people
It is important that we don’t only talk about academics with protected characteristics when they are being studied for those protected characteristics. This can lead to a perception that individuals with protected characteristics cannot be mainstream academics, and instead are simply marked out for their ‘other-ness’.
Example: Prof Stephen Hawking was famous for his intellectual prowess and original thinking, rather than the fact that he had motor neurone disease.
We must also think about the type of graduate that the University of Edinburgh aims to produce. We aim to produce self-aware graduates who are able to communicate effectively in a multitude of environments, with people from a multitude of backgrounds.
To find out about more events and activities celebrating diversity see the Edinburgh University Students' Association liberation campaigns
If you are putting on an event for any of the diversity days please let Denise.Boyle@ed.ac.uk.
For more information about the University’s Equality Outcomes and Actions please see: