Musarrat Maisha Reza (University of Exeter)


From 09:00
to 12:00
From 09:00
to 12:00
From 09:00
to 12:00

Course description
Decolonizing higher education curricula has been more energetically discussed within the sphere of university scholarship and research since the ‘Rhodes Must Fall’ Oxford’s campaign. Much light has been shed on the necessity of critically assessing the colonial legacy of the higher education institutes in the UK. The National Union of Students in the UK has been running campaigns such as ‘Rhodes Must Fall’ in South Africa and ‘Why is My Curriculum White?’ in the UK since 2015. These movements have now given universities a platform to dismantle aspects of coloniality in the curricula.
Decolonizing Science is often perceived to be irrelevant with unclear definitions and poorly understood contexts. This module encourages students to investigate the extent to which knowledge generated from the Global North (Europe and America), in terms of research, education, communication and practice have been built on colonialism, slavery, oppression, discrimination and injustice. Students will explore the problematic nature of studying Science and Medicine from only the Eurocentric/Western lens, overlooking its historical contexts, and excluding non-Western knowledge creators. Students will also have opportunities to discuss and debate the extent of impact and influence of historical atrocities on our education and healthcare practices today. All differing viewpoints backed by research and evidence are highly welcome and recommended to enhance the vibrancy and robustness of discussions.
The module further encourages students to interrogate the lack of visibility and representation of knowledge creators and question if there is a culture of non-acceptance of knowledge produced from the Global South. Students will get an opportunity to explore the vast contributions made by scientists from the Global South but are not commonly represented in academic Literature.
The module intends to empower students to start difficult conversations, take actionable steps and hold decision makers accountable to facilitate the deconstruction and transformation of the unrepresentative Eurocentric knowledge systems.
Subject matters like these may elicit a myriad of responses and thoughts, so it is intended that students will learn to express and communicate opinions, backed by research and facts, in a respectful and empathetic manner. It will also encourage students to work in groups and consider varying points of views and embrace objectivity when presenting your thoughts.


Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

Module-specific skills
On successfully completing the module students will be able to...
• Identify and describe how historical methods of practicing Science and Medicine have shaped modern scientific and medical progress, enabling pervasive practices to be overlooked.
• Discuss the concept of decolonizing the curriculum, in context of the Science and Medicine curricula.
• Investigate the factors that lead to ignoring or overlooking discoveries and inventions made by ethnic minorities in available academic Literature.
• Critically analyse the practical implications of a colonized curricula on academia, research and healthcare.
• Interrogate with a decolonial lens, the role individuals can play in addressing current challenges to create an ecosystem of EDI in education and the workplace with diverse representation of knowledge and knowledge creators.

ILO: Discipline-specific skills
On successfully completing the module students will be able to:
• Critically assess reading material on the imperial and colonial influence on shaping Science and Medicine using guiding questions.
• Formulate opinions and arguments backed by research and evidence and present them in verbal and written assignments.
• Translate the knowledge acquired from taught and independent study material to recommend solutions or tools to ensure greater EDI in Science and Medicine.
• Present solutions and recommendations through written work and oral presentation after reflective thinking.
ILO: Personal and key skills
• Teamwork: Work effectively and with due respect as part of a research team- taking responsibility in leading or as an active group member.
• Public Speaking: Engage in public speaking and harness presentation skills.
• Effective Communication: Respectful engagement with one another in expressing varying opinions and in providing constructive feedback for reflection.
• Critical Thinking: Critical analysis and reflection of evidence presented in literature or in group discussions.

Syllabus plan
Each week, we are proposing 3 workshop sessions, 3 hours each for 4 weeks (36-hours total). An example of the syllabus and plan for each session is as below:
• Introduction and exploring the aims of the module, skills workshops on debating, writing reflective journals, developing video resources and assessment criteria.
• Decolonizing the curricula: The relevance of decolonization in Science and Medicine, common misconceptions and the path forward.
• Hidden figures: Hidden contributions by Black, Asian, Middle Eastern, Indigenous Persons and People of Colour; interrogating the lack of visibility of non-White knowledge creators and knowledge from the Global South.
• Ethics in medical research: A historical perspective and contemporary progress.
• Perception of pain through the century; disturbing reasons why Black patients may be undertreated for pain.
• Who gets antibiotics first? Racial and ethnic differences in antibiotic prescription.
• Women of colour and consent in medicine: The case of Puerto Rican women and the pill in context of colonialism.
• Tuskegee Syphilis study: Denial of Syphilis treatment to African American men.
• Willowbrook Hepatitis experiments: Discovery of Hepatitis vaccine by experimenting on mentally disabled children.
• COVID-19 and inequality: The disproportionate impact on racial and ethnic minorities.
• In-class debate assessments
• Co-creating solutions and dismantling systems of discrimination around us & submission of reflective journals.

Session Structure
Students will be provided reading materials, videos and reflective questions to engage with before each workshop session.
First hour: Facilitated through the flipped classroom model and small-group-interactive learning, using the reflective questions.
Second hour: Students engage in a debate topic provided and facilitators provide verbal feedback on performance and improvement.
Final hour: Students complete their reflective journals.


Bibliography/Recommended Reading
Prior to each session a comprehensive recommended reading list is provided to students. A sample of the recommended reading list for 4 out of the 10 workshop sessions are provided below (excluding introductory session and in-class debate assessment.)

Session 3:
Hidden contributions by Black, Asian, Middle Eastern, Indigenous Persons and People of Colour; Interrogating the lack of visibility of non-White knowledge creators and knowledge from the Global South.

Articles and Journals

• Almeida, S. (2015). Race-Based Epistemologies: The Role of Race and Dominance in Knowledge Production. Wagadu: A Journal of Transnational Women's & Gender Studies (~50 minutes read)
• Ramirez, A. (2021, June 17). Hidden Black Scientists Proved the Polio Vaccine Worked. Scientific American. (~7 minutes read)
• The Independent. (2006, March 11). How Islamic inventors changed the world. The Independent (~7 minutes read)


• Boylston, A. (2012). The origins of inoculation. Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, 105(7), 309-313. (~12 minutes read)
• Alluri, B.A. (2020, September, 20). The Indian Queens Who Modelled for The World's First Vaccine. BBC News (~8 minutes read)
• Cao, X (2008. April). Immunology in China: The Past, Present and Future. Nature Immunology
(~12 minutes read)


Videos and podcasts

10 Surprising Ancient Indian Discoveries & Inventions (6 minutes)

A History of Racism Against Black Inventors (7 minutes)


Session 4:
Ethics in medical research: A historical perspective and contemporary progress.

Articles and Journals

• Gaw, A. (2006). Beyond consent: the potential for atrocity. Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, 99(4), 175-177. (~20 minutes read)
• Geneviève, L. D., Martani, A., Shaw, D., Elger, B. S., & Wangmo, T. (2020). Structural racism in precision medicine: leaving no one behind. BMC medical ethics, 21(1), 1-13.
(~45 minutes read)
• Nuriddin, A., Mooney, G., & White, A. I. (2020). Reckoning with histories of medical racism and violence in the USA. The Lancet, 396(10256), 949-951. (~15 minutes read)
• Calman, K. C. (2004). Evolutionary ethics: can values change. Journal of Medical Ethics, 30(4), 366-370. (~25 minutes read)


Videos and podcasts

Introduction to Bioethics: Bioethics at the Bedside (11 minutes)

Why Bioethics Matters (21 minutes)

Session 7:

Articles and Journals

Women of colour and consent in medicine: The case of Puerto Rican women and the pill in context of colonialism.
• Paola Alonso, Autonomy Revoked: The Forced Sterilization of Women of Color in 20th Century America (~45 minutes read)
• Lawson, K. (2018, August 16). California's dark history of forcibly sterilizing latinas. VICE. (~12 minutes read)
• BMJ. (2019). 1 in 4 women at sexual health clinics reports coercion over their reproductive lives. BMJ (~10 minutes read)
• Sowemimo, A. (2018). #DecolonisingContraception: how reproductive medicine has been used to oppress people of colour : CORTH Blog, Centre for Cultures of Reproduction, Technologies and Health : University of Sussex. (~7 minutes read)
• Reichard, R. (2020). In Puerto Rico, A history of colonization led to an atrocious lack of reproductive freedom. Refinery29. (~8 minutes read)
• Altman, Molly R., et al. (2019) Information and power: Women of color's experiences interacting with health care providers in pregnancy and birth. Social science & medicine 238: 112491. (~30 minutes)
• Malik, K. (2019). The spirit of eugenics is still with us, as immigrants know to their cost. The Guardian. (~5 minutes read)


Videos and podcasts

• Reproductive Rights & the Women Who Sparked a Movement | Retro Report (4 minutes)
• Reframing Reproductive Rights: Going Beyond Pro-Choice vs Pro Life | Asha Dahya | TEDxNormal (13 minutes)


Session 9:

 Articles and Journals

Willowbrook Hepatitis experiments: Discovery of Hepatitis vaccines by experimenting on mentally disabled children

• Reimann, M. (2019, November 8). Willowbrook, the institution that shocked a nation into changing its laws. Medium. (~15 minutes read) ~ Trigger warning: several graphic images of patients in Willowbrook

• Krugman, S. (1986). The Willowbrook hepatitis studies revisited: ethical aspects. Reviews of infectious diseases, 8(1), 157-162. (~35 minutes read)

• Rosenbaum, L. (2020, June 15). The Hideous Truths Of Testing Vaccines On Humans. Forbes. (~25 minutes read)
• Saxon, W. (1995, October 28). Saul Krugman, 84; Led Fight to Vanquish Childhood Diseases. The New York Times. (~10 minutes read)
• Rothman, D. J. (1982). Were Tuskegee & Willowbrook'studies in nature'?. Hastings Center Report, 5-7. (~25 minutes read)


Videos and podcasts

The Story That Revealed Willowbrook’s Horrors (~12-minute video)
**Trigger warning: several graphic images and videos footage of patients in Willowbrook. If it is too hard to watch, listen to the journalist without the video.


Teaching Assessment
There will 3 assessments for this module- (i) Group debates will make up 20% of the total grade, (ii) structured reflective journals will be 30% of the total grade and finally, the (iii) educational resource video will make up 50% of the final module grade.

1. Group Debate Assessment
Students in each workshop group will be split into two groups consisting of 3-4 students each. Each student is required to speak for 5 minutes. Speakers will be assessed individually for their performance; however, the group will be allocated a total mark based on the collective group performance. All members of a specific group will receive the same mark.

Students will be provided 3 debate topics/titles as options and will need to make a collective decision within each workshop group, on which topic they would like to debate on.

Out of the two groups in the workshop, one group will be ‘for’ the topic and the other group will be ‘against’ the topic. Students will decide among themselves, who will be the first, second and last speaker.

Acquired skills
• Verbal communication
• Summarization of information
• Critical thinking
• Time management
• Teamwork
• Professional behavior Sources of support

Students will have a skills workshop on ‘how to debate’ in the introductory session and further debate simulations in all workshop sessions. They will receive formative feedback from facilitators.

2. Structured reflective journals
Students will be writing a weekly reflective journal every session (a total of 10 journals) and submit five best reflective journals on a provided template (‘what did you know?’, ‘what was new?’, ‘how has your knowledge changed?’). Each reflective journal will be no longer than 300 words and graded at 6% of the module mark, and collectively 30% of the module mark.

Acquired skills
• Written communication
• Summarisation of information
• Critical thinking and reflection
• Information searching and collation
• Using feedback to improve performance

Sources of support
Students will receive formative feedback on their reflective journals in class from the workshop facilitator. A template will be provided to guide students on what content they should explore in each sub section.

3. Individual Educational Resource
In this video assignment, students are required to develop an individual educational resource as the final assessment. The video assignment needs to be for a duration of 7 minutes +/- 30 seconds on any topic of their choice. Topics can be from the syllabus covered or a topic of interest outside the syllabus. Students get a chance to take the role of an educator, in a more objective stance. In the video, students are required to speak clearly throughout. They can choose the type of resource e.g. A video of them speaking, animations, Pecha Kucha type of presentation (using an image slide show) etc. They will be provided a recommended format to follow.

 Acquired skills
● Verbal communication
● Summarization of information
● Critical thinking
● Time management
● Oral presentation skills
● Use of technology Sources of support

Students will be shown how to develop a video resource in the first skills workshop and what is required of them. They will also be shown samples of previous students’ work to get a gauge on what is expected of them.


Last updated: March 28, 2023


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