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Session Title

1131: Exploring decolonialization in pedagogy and practice: Identifying, naming and decentering structures and processes that maintain the status quo

Session Times

Tuesday, May 28: 9:00-11:30 a.m. and 1:30-5:30 p.m.

Wednesday, May 29: 8:30-11:30 a.m.


This institute will explore ways the academy privileges the “knowing” voice above the critical thinking and discourse that emerges from a practice of shared responsibility. As such, this institute will center the practice of questioning in order to build a truly inclusive and equitable learning community. From our time together, we expect to reimagine ideas and practices toward this end. If you are interested in taking part in collaborative dialogue, we invite you to join us as a partner in this learning community.

Given the rhetoric of our strategic plans - “honoring diversity”, “supporting cultural identities,”  “developing global citizens,” “internationalizing” - how carefully have we examined our existing structures, practices, and policies with a critical lens for our treatment of racialized faculty, students, and staff?  

This institute will provide a space to explore the following questions:

  • To what extent have we tacitly accepted structures, silos, policies, and practices that reify a culture of whiteness and white supremacy?  
  • Have we considered the ways in which inequitable results regarding student matriculation, faculty and staff recruitment and retention, and graduate students’ progress, are not happenstance, but constructed and to some extent intended?
  • Is it possible to provide an “education” that will prepare students to live and work successfully in a “multicultural” and “globalized society” without discussing the contexts of white supremacy, colonization, racism, and xenophobia?
  • Given that our institutions are centered on whiteness and white supremacy, how do structures and practices like tenure and departmental control of curriculum and pedagogy, and operationalized concepts like free speech and academic freedom, reinforce that center? What would happen to the institution if these are decentered and even decolonized?
  • What is the threat to whiteness and white supremacy if we address issues of race, ethnicity, color, class, immigrant status, gender identity, religion, and others as intersectional, interconnected, and interacting?
  • What does student “success” mean?  What is the purpose of their “schooling”? By whom is success defined? For whom is it defined? How do the ways we structure the resulting programs and offices, continue to center whiteness and white supremacy?

This session should particularly benefit to anyone who wishes to explore these questions in depth with the presenters and other participants, with the aim of making visible the hidden racism, colonialism and xenophobia in our institutional structures and practices, and to collectively reimagine ways to create equity and excellence through our scholarship, teaching and educational activism.


Cristine Clifford Cullinan, PhD, Founder,  ALiVE:  Actual Leadership in Vital Equity

Zoila Airall, PhD, Associate Vice President, Student Affairs Duke University

Li-Chen Chin, PhD, Assistant Vice President, Intercultural Programs Duke University

Carl James, PhD, Professor, Faculty of Education and the Graduate Program in Sociology, York University

Annette Henry, PhD, Professor, Language and Literacy Education, University of British Columbia