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Decolonise, democratise and diversify reading lists: The 3Ds

The 3D Pedagogy Framework is a strategic model of inclusive teaching practice developed to decolonize, democratize and diversify the UK higher education curriculum.

Dr. Deborah Gabriel

What do we mean by 'decolonising' the curricula?

The following text is from the Teaching Excellence Academy's Teaching Essentials module 'Decolonising the Curriculum' (as at May 2023). It is reproduced here for transparency because the Canvas site is not visible to students.

Decolonising the curriculum is the process of recognising, challenging and dismantling the white-western male-elite domination of knowledge taught in the academy. This process leaves open the potential to re construct knowledge in partnership with diverse cultures and create inclusive ways of knowing and teaching.

Decolonising curriculum calls for a huge cultural shift, a complete re-organisation of power and re-imagining what, how and by whom knowledge is constructed, shared and taught. The issues are complex and multi-layered (hooks, 2003; Behari-Leak et al, 2017) embracing research methodologies, the funding and production of academic knowledge, publishing protocols, the writing and delivery of curricula, and the staffing and organisation of higher education institutions (Bhopal, 2018; hooks, 2003; Loke, 2019). Decolonising the curriculum cannot happen in isolation, it calls for a whole and cross institutional approach.

Where feminist activists and critical pedagogues began this work decades ago, students across the globe are taking action to make decolonisation a meaningful reality (El Magd, 2019; Swain 2019). Their action has inspired the development of a Race Charter by Advance HE ( and led institutions to muster a concerted effort to make radical change.

The implications are personal (Felix and Friedberg, 2019), practical and political (Bhopal, 2018), done correctly this can lead to the fairer, brighter future we at the University of Hull aims to create. A prolonged and self-conscious commitment to decolonisation can lead to ensuring a system where all those who engage with the university can do so with dignity, safety and respect (hooks, 2003). The University of Hull's values ‘Progressive, Inclusive and Empowering’ puts decolonisation at the heart of all we do.

Key points to consider when thinking about decolonising curricula

1. All races, ethnicities, classes, genders, sexual orientations, and disabilities have a right to understand what our roles and contributions have been in shaping intellectual achievements and shifting culture and progress.*

2. Recognise our world is shaped by a long colonial history where elite white men dominate, most disciplines give disproportionate significance to the experiences, histories and achievements of this one group.

3. Understand decolonising curriculum is more nuanced than merely including texts written by minority authors or including minority voices in curricula. It concerns not only what is taught and how it is critiqued, but how it is taught.

4. Recognise the university reproduces colonial hierarchies; confronting, challenging and rejecting the status quo; and reimagining them and putting alternatives into practice is integral to decolonisation.

5. Think about how race, gender, disability and class all demonstrably impact student attainment and experiences of exclusion from the university environment.

*Adapted from the Decolonising Curriculum Networks at the London School of Economics, 2019 and Keele University, 2019

This is the end of the text taken from the Teaching Excellence Academy module.

The 3Ds

There are many definitions of decolonisation, and debates about what it means within higher education. The University has identified three elements relating to its curricula and Library collections: decolonise, diversify and democratise.

It is useful to consider the 3D Pedagogy Framework, developed by Dr. Deborah Gabriel. It is a model of inclusive practice designed to decolonise, democratise and diversify UK higher education curricula. She describes it as “as a fusion of social justice pedagogy, critical race pedagogy and critical reflective practice.”

The following definitions are taken from Dr. Gabriel’s article Enhancing Higher Education Practice Through the 3D Pedagogy Framework to Decolonize, Democratize and Diversify the Curriculum.


Decolonisation is not only about challenging “Eurocentric modes of thinking inextricably linked to slavery, colonialism and modernity”. It is also about constructing and advancing “new ways of thinking, knowing and doing from the intellectual production that emerges from the lived experience of the colonized.”


In her definition of democratisation, Gabriel quotes Aldridge (2000). “Democratisation […] refers to cultural democracy, defined as the principle that all ethnic and cultural groups should 'be active participants in the world with an equal right to the cultural, economic and political power available within society.' In higher education, this means looking beyond Eurocentric modes of thinking and including different ways of constructing and sharing knowledge. This empowers students as contributors to their education and the ways in which they and their peers are taught.

An example of how to democratise teaching is I am a scientist: Overcoming biased assumptions around diversity in science through explicit representation of scientists in lectures by colleagues in the Department of Biological and Marine Sciences.


Gabriel defines diversification as “an essential component of cultural democracy and refers to an inclusion within the curriculum of global and diverse cultural perspectives in course content and teaching and learning [preferences].”


Aldridge, D. P. (2000) On race and culture: beyond Afrocentrism, Eurocentrism to cultural democracy. Sociological Focus, 33(1), 95-107. [University of Hull login required].

Gabriel, D. (2019) From enhancing higher education practice through the 3D pedagogy framework to decolonize, democratize and diversify the curriculum. International Journal of Technology and Inclusive Education (IJTIE), 8(2), 1499-1466.

Henri, D.C., Coates,K. Hubbard, K. (2023) I am a scientist: Overcoming biased assumptions around diversity in science through explicit representation of scientists in lectures. PLOS ONE, 18(7): e0271010.

Call for case studies and examples of good practice

The Library and the Teaching Excellence Academy are seeking examples of decolonisation, diversification and democratisation of teaching, from staff and students, to build up a resource of good practice. It could be examples relating to curriculum (re)design, individual approaches or activities, diversified reading lists and so on.

If you have something to share, or would like further information, please email Catherine Lillie (TEA) or Maggie Sarjantson (Library), or send a message in Teams.

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Some suggested reading and listening

Beyond the master’s tools? Decolonising knowledge orders, research methods and teaching edited by Daniel Bendix, Franziska Müller and Aram Ziai. [University of Hull login required.]

From book review: This book examines how academics have used decolonial pedagogies and methods to teach and research development studies as they grapple with colonial modernity’s ruptures and post-development critiques of international relations. Calls for the decolonisation of the ‘stale, pale, and male’ university could be regarded as the prescriptive source of inspiration for this work.

Enhancing higher education practice through the 3D pedagogy framework to decolonize, democratize and diversify the Curriculum by Deborah Gabriel.

From the abstract: In the UK, USA and elsewhere, an attainment gap exists between and among White students and students of colour. The 3D Pedagogy Framework targets education practice as the primary driver for enhancing the experience and outcomes of students of colour and enriching the learning process for students of all ethnic and cultural backgrounds. This paper discusses a pilot study involving 27 educational practitioners that undertook a workshop on 3D Pedagogy. Preliminary findings from quantitative and qualitative data collected point to the efficacy of the 3D Pedagogy Framework as an effective model for enhancing the cultural competencies of educational practitioners and promoting critical reflection and agency; important steps towards transforming the curriculum.

Transforming the Ivory Tower : Models for Gender Equality and Social Justice edited by Deborah Gabriel. [University of Hull login required.]

From the description: These research case studies by Black women academics describe the transformative work of contributors to the Ivory Tower project, adding intersectional voices from the United States, Canada and Australia, and LGBTQ perspectives. Privileging their lived experience, intellectual, social and cultural capital, they recount the self-defined pathways for social justice developed by women of colour. Drawing on critical race theory and Black feminism, the authors navigate challenging spaces to create meaningful roles in addressing race and gender disparities that range from invisibility in the academy to tackling female genital mutilation. Their research and practice, so often unacknowledged, is shown to be transforming teaching, research, professional and community practice within and beyond the academy.

Can We Talk? A White, middle class male’s perspective on Transforming the Ivory Tower: models for gender equality & social justice by Julian McDougall. [University of Hull login required.]

Extract from editorial: In occupying the editorship of this journal for several years, in combination with a Professorship – with all of its affordances to speak and be heard, write and be read -, leading a research centre, running a doctoral programme and convening a conference, I have enjoyed the usual privileges of a White, male space whilst, intentionally or unconsciously, overseeing the gatekeeping practices common to a journal editor’s role, practices which grant or close off access to the pages, multiple spaces and discursive framings of MPE’s (Media practice and education) community of practice. This is all the more problematic, given the desires and ideal subjectivities of media practice research to be about transformation, praxis, de-centering, transdisciplinarity voice and change. So it was a necessarily uncomfortable exchange, but for that reason this challenging conversation with Deborah seems the right way to ‘sign off’.

Decolonising the curriculum: teaching and learning about race equality by Marlon Moncrieffe et al.

Issue 2 of the University of Brighton’s journal offering a wide variety of articles with teaching and learning approaches and critical theoretical provocations for decolonising the curriculum.

The Wins and the Pitfalls: Designing an Inclusive Curriculum and Learning Environment at a British University Law School by Rachel Nir and Tina McKee. [University of Hull login required.]

From the abstract: Abstract: How does a Law School at a British university make its learning environment more inclusive? Fifty percent of UCLAN’s Law School’s students come from low income backgrounds and 48 percent from minority ethnic backgrounds. Most academic staff within the school are white. UK law is based on Judeo-Christian origins and key statutes and cases determined by white jurists. In 2018/19, the school adopted a three-pronged approach. Firstly, it set up a staff team for one academic year who were tasked to de-colonize the curriculum and to improve the inclusivity of the classroom environment. The team used legal-design methodologies that focused on the student user experience. Secondly, the team, mindful of its own experiential limitations, made the decision to seek external training from an inclusive learning specialist. Thirdly, the school set up a co-design group with recent graduates to become better informed about the minority ethnic student experience. The key changes made to the syllabus and learning environment are identified together with the early wins but also the pitfalls

The Politics of Knowledge: Or, How to Stop Being Eurocentric by Sanjay Seth.

From the abstract: In the last 20 years or so, a significant and growing body of work has sought to unveil, challenge and displace the ‘Eurocentric’ biases of the human sciences. The arguments advanced in these works vary, and the aim of this essay is both to survey this literature and to point out the differences between different ‘kinds’ or ‘types’ of ‘anti-Eurocentrism’.

What if our textbooks were Black?

Two-part BBC Radio 4 series considering the new to reconsider models of education, and the textbooks used.

Race and Ethnicity Hub

A freely available OpenLearn site from the Open University offering free courses, articles, interactives and audio-visual materials to support many subject areas.

Student Journey Game 

The game has been developed for UK university staff who are committed to or involved in developing interventions that address racial discrimination and inequalities in higher education. It can be played by both academics and members of professional services staff.

BAMEed Network

The BAMEed Network is a movement initiated in response to the continual call for intersectionality and diversity in the education sector. It connects, enables, and showcases the talent of diverse educators so they may inspire future generations and open up possibilities within education careers.