Teaching the impacts of colonialism to UK Higher Education students

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review

Abstract / Description of output

This chapter presents a critical reflection on delivering a lecture on the impacts of colonialism to a cohort of predominantly white, undergraduate students in the UK. This chapter provides an overview of the lecture, including its key content and how it built on a wider programme of learning. It then discusses student reactions to the lecture content, reviews the literature on teaching sensitive subjects, highlights what pedagogues in Higher Education (HE) can learn from this literature, and explores both teacher and student positionality. The chapter concludes that pedagogues in HE should pursue the teaching of sensitive subjects and not ‘give in’ to student discomfort. Not creating the conditions to discuss such issues in learning spaces ultimately sides with existing structures of power and privilege in HE that should be challenged. However, strategies need to be put in place to overcome students’ fears of discussing sensitive subjects. These strategies include pedagogues building up trust, facilitating open dialogue, and reflexively exploring positionality. These present both students and teachers with the opportunity to recognise and transform their own biases, perceptions, and attitudes to facilitate deeper and more democratic learning; and challenge existing structures of privilege in HE that benefit more powerful groups.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDeveloping and Implementing Teaching in Sensitive Subject and Topic Areas
Subtitle of host publicationA Comprehensive Guide for Professionals in FE and HE Settings
EditorsWilliam McGovern, Aidan Gillespie, Toby Brandon, Alison McInnes
PublisherEmerald Publishing
Number of pages11
ISBN (Print)9781837531271
Publication statusPublished - 5 Feb 2024

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • colonialism
  • race
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders
  • positionality
  • pedagogy
  • Higher Education


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