University of Leeds to look into developing a Black British History module

Staff ‘listen to demands’ of Why is My Curriculum White campaign

Leeds’ School of History is looking into the possibility of developing a new module as part of a broader project exploring the existing provision of black British history at higher education institutions. 

The development was welcomed by LUU Education Officer Melz Owusu, who has led a “Why is my Curriculum White” campaign at Leeds. She was consulted about the history project. She said “running the ‘Why is my Curriculum White?’ campaign has not been easy, it has come with its fair share of racist haters that have targeted both me and the campaign. Yet it has been massively rewarding, I’ve been lucky to run the campaign at a University where, despite having to manoeuvre a number of barriers, staff are largely willing to listen to the demands of the campaign and work together towards a liberated curriculum and University.

“We’ve had a number of wins including securing £700k from HEFCE and match funding to tackle the BME and low-socioeconomic attainment gap and having PhD scholarships reserved for home students of colour to address the national under-representation accepted in principle by the University’s Graduate Board. This is just a few of the campaign’s successes and I will be presenting another paper to the Taught Student Education Board this afternoon to ensure that the agreed actions for the campaign; such as programme content audits, the setting up of a degree attainment gap working group and a refresh of periodic programme reviews to ensure that considerations are taken regarding whiteness within curricular.

“However, one very important lesson I have learnt throughout this campaign is that only so much can be done institutionally. It takes the continued fervour of students questioning curricula, questioning academics and campaigning for better that is the life blood of ‘Why is my Curriculum White?’ I could never have achieved this without the backing of the student body. Decolonisation is never going to happen overnight; but as long as we continue critiquing and questioning the current system we may draw ever closer.”

Photos courtesy of LUU