The (PDF file) Standing Strong Task Force (SSTF) Report and the Anti-Black Racism Campus Climate Review report both include recommendations that substantively address programmatic and curricular change related to anti-colonialism and anti-racism. One of the priority areas for the Special Advisor (SA) on Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Decolonization (EDID) (Curriculum Transformation) is curriculum and programming at TMU as related to equity. This webpage provides an overview of the SA, EDID’s approach to TMU’s commitment to equity at all levels of programming and curriculum.
The SSTF report references “mandatory learning opportunities about Indigenous history and Indigenous and colonial relations for all students” (recommendation nine) and the Campus Climate Review suggests “diversify[ing] disciplines and programs” (recommendation one). The reports also point to the importance of implementing recommendations in the 2018 Truth and Reconciliation Community Consultation Summary Report, which references curriculum. Many programs and departments at TMU are currently responding to these recommendations by adding material to existing courses and/or creating new courses that address Indigenous and/or Black history and colonial relations, or are planning to do so.
In university settings, authority for and decisions about degree requirements and programming rest with faculty members. University governance and deliberative processes, as well as quality assurance and accreditation considerations, also have a bearing on program requirements. Likewise, the extent to which departments and programs engage with any of the three approaches identified below will rest significantly on faculty members’, and likewise, department’s and program’s collective engagements with these priorities. Students’ voices, critical to both calls for diversification of the curriculum and the implementation process itself, will also inform this work.
Ideally, university programming that prioritizes equity will prepare students for lives in which, across a range of settings and communities, they have the ability to:
- identify and reflect on the existence of inequity; and
- contribute to practices of equity.
Regardless of a student’s degree program–whether philosophy or chemistry or social work or computer engineering–graduates will enter a world in which ongoing forms of inequity are systemic, persistent, and multi-layered. As individuals who will live and work in a range of professional contexts and communities, TMU graduates will ideally offer an attentiveness to the public good, including equitable relationships and structures.
The inclusion of one or two courses with content addressing Indigenous history and colonial relations in a 40-course degree program is one approach to decolonization in university programming. This approach will address the recommendation in the Standing Strong Task Force report.
A second approach calls for ongoing attention to department-wide programming and learning outcomes. A department-wide and shared understanding of learning outcomes and practices related to practices of equity, anti-racism, and decolonization can inform course content across degree requirements. This second approach lends itself to curricular change that is systemic and enduring, and that focuses on students’ contributions upon graduation in their professional lives and beyond. Programming that serves equity in the context of students’ contributions will:
- Be rooted in a shared, in-depth, and nuanced understanding of the existence of inequity and possibilities for equity in public life;
- Rest on a robust identification of capacities at pan-university, Faculty, and department/program levels that will support graduates’ efforts at identifying inequity and contributing to equity; and
- Be oriented toward an understanding of universities, and likewise curriculum and programming, as optimally serving the public good with explicit consideration of equity in public life.
Moving forward, faculty members within departments and programs might engage as follows:
- ensure that required courses in their programs include content about Indigenous history and colonial relations and/or Black experiences and realities, and/or
- contribute to communication about and implementation of curricular recommendations in the SSTF and Campus Climate Review reports, and/or
- join conversations in which participants consider the possibility of pan-university, Faculty-wide, and department/program equity priorities.
In the winter and spring terms of 2023, the Special Advisor to the President on EDID (Curriculum) held discussions with faculty, staff and students. The primary objectives of these conversations were as follows:
- Respond to clarification questions regarding the rationale presented in this document.
- Provide further depth regarding each approach and what it might entail and ask of faculty members and departments.
- Gauge interest, progress, opportunities and challenges as related to both approaches and possibilities for next steps.
Following the above conversations, the Special Advisor provided a report.
This information has been prepared by Jennifer S. Simpson, the Special Advisor to the President for EDID (Curriculum Transformation).