Original Research

Challenges of transforming curricula: Reflections by an interdisciplinary Community of Practice

Gerda Dullaart, Ydalene Coetsee, Jean L. Farmer, Jennifer Feldman, Jerome Joorst, Ruenda Loots, Marianne McKay, Simbongile Ntwasa
Transformation in Higher Education | Vol 8 | a301 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/the.v8i0.301 | © 2023 Gerda Dullaart, Ydalene Coetsee, Jean L. Farmer, Jennifer Feldman, Jerome Joorst, Ruenda Loots, Marianne McKay, Simbongile Ntwasa | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 22 May 2023 | Published: 15 December 2023

About the author(s)

Gerda Dullaart, Centre for Teaching and Learning, Stellenbosch University, Stellenbosch, South Africa; and Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Stellenbosch University, Cape Town, South Africa
Ydalene Coetsee, Language Centre, Stellenbosch University, Stellenbosch, South Africa
Jean L. Farmer, Centre for Teaching and Learning, Stellenbosch University, Stellenbosch, South Africa
Jennifer Feldman, Department of Education Policy Studies, Faculty of Education, Stellenbosch University, Stellenbosch, South Africa
Jerome Joorst, Department of Education Policy Studies, Faculty of Education, Stellenbosch University, Stellenbosch, South Africa
Ruenda Loots, School of Public Leadership, Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences, Stellenbosch University, Stellenbosch, South Africa
Marianne McKay, Department of Viticulture and Oenology, Faculty of Agrisciences, South African Institute of Grape and Wine Sciences (SAGWRI), Stellenbosch University, Stellenbosch, South Africa
Simbongile Ntwasa, Centre for Teaching and Learning, Stellenbosch University, Stellenbosch, South Africa

Abstract

Institutional transformation and inclusion have slowly become more prominent in the strategies of historically white institutions in South Africa. Despite these efforts, progress towards these goals has been limited. In this article, we reflect on our conversations about transforming our curricula and teaching practices as an interdisciplinary Community of Practice. Our conversations grappled with the lack of curricular transformation at Stellenbosch University, despite its aspirational transformation plan. We argue that difficult interdisciplinary conversations are key to interrupting our teaching practices and are crucial in the decolonising process. These conversations must be ongoing and enduring, because through sharing our stories we support agents of curriculum transformation in our different contexts. Our conceptual conversations explored various theories about decoloniality, and here we employ ubuntu pedagogy, as well as the concepts of redistribution, recognition and representation from social justice theory. We harness the collaborative energy of an interdisciplinary Community of Practice, with its associated storytelling, reading, writing and reflecting to harness the diversity of personal and disciplinary perspectives. We include some reflective vignettes to illustrate our process.

Contribution: The relevance of this study, beyond our contexts, arises from a gap in the decolonising process, from its theory to its practice. We argue that even a good institutional transformation plan will not guarantee the decoloniality of curricula. More is needed. Systemic change is needed, and difficult interdisciplinary conversations are part of this process. There must be recognition and representation of marginalised voices and specific context-related redistribution of curricula, so that transformation plans and theories can take effect.


Keywords

decoloniality; social justice; ubuntu pedagogy; curriculum transformation; teaching and learning practices; Community of Practice.

Sustainable Development Goal

Goal 10: Reduced inequalities

Metrics

Total abstract views: 688
Total article views: 419


Crossref Citations

No related citations found.