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Changemakers Initiative supports students to help diversify the curriculum

Image credit: The Languages Around Us - Filipe Peregrino.
  • Written byChloe Murphy
  • Published date22 February 2021
Image credit: The Languages Around Us - Filipe Peregrino.

Research from the National Union of Students and Universities UK outlines the importance of working in partnership with students to combat racial inequalities in higher education.

Building on the progress of UAL’s Liberate the Curriculum project, the Changemakers Initiative at London College of Communication (LCC) supports students to use decolonial and liberation frameworks in order to change the landscape of academia. Opportunities include working with course teams to decolonise and diversify reading lists, providing feedback on course content and units, and promoting wider collaborations between staff, students, librarians, academic support and language development.

First launched as a pilot for the 2020/21 academic year, 9 students have now taken part in the initiative, connecting, exploring and contributing to programmes across the College. In addition, the Changemakers have also helped to highlight the importance of knowledge activism through their Decolonising Wikipedia Network, which supports wider groups of students to edit and publish articles which highlight the achievements of underrepresented practitioners, helping to make the online encyclopaedia a more diverse and exclusive space.

We caught up with LCC graduate Sofia Bordin about the importance of the initiative, and highlights from her role as Changemaker so far.

What course did you study at LCC, and why are you passionate about your subject?

I graduated last year from BA (Hons) Animation, and I’m currently doing a MA in Fine Art in Sculpture at the Slade. I’m particularly passionate about creative processes and artistic experimentation through the exploration of materials, as well as subjects like History of Art and Critical Studies which help me discover important insights from the art world which can be applied to my practice.

My work reflects on concepts of spatiality, with particular focus on public spaces, bodies and belonging.

Why did you apply for the Changemakers Initiative, and why is it such an important project?

I joined the Changemakers project because I wanted to be part of an initiative centered on social justice and decolonisation that aimed to dismantle systematic racism through the creation of a more inclusive, sustainable and fair community at UAL.

We work with students and staff members on various educational enhancement projects, addressing racial disparities, making positive changes to improve the learning experience of marginalised students at the University, and exploring how to end discrimination and racism in higher education.

As a result of the project, I’ve been involved in the re-approval processes of two courses (MA Games Design and MA Animation), and I’m also supporting LCC’s Decolonising Wikipedia Network.

Tell us a little bit about your work with course teams at LCC.

I’ve been involved in conversations with course leaders from our Screen School to discuss reading lists and ways to improve their curricula.

As part of this process, I start by looking at proposed changes for each course before offering suggestions on how to make those changes more effective and beneficial for all students: for example, by diversifying reading lists and content on the Critical Studies unit.

In order to make these suggestions, I attend the Course committee and have conversations with students in order to give voice to their needs and requests.

You’ve also been involved with LCC’s Decolonising Wikipedia Network – why is this project so valuable?

Wikipedia has received many criticisms for the racial bias of its coverage, and we think that the lack of visibility of under-represented communities continues to fuel colonial narratives of a Western-centered education.

Therefore, the LCC Decolonising Wikipedia Network is a very important collective action to actively decolonize knowledge and academia by improving the coverage of subjects and histories that have been ignored or erased by colonial oppression.

What have been the highlights of your time as a Changemaker so far?

The highlights of my experience have been educating myself and doing the work to be a better ally, together with engaging in important conversations with my peers and staff from UAL.

In future, I hope to continue promoting more dialogues and co-operation between students to keep challenging discrimination, oppression and inequality while fighting for a truly accessible and decolonised education.

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