The chief drafter of the Inclusive Education Action Plan 2019/2020, Dr Sara Camacho Felix, presented her work on improving BME student experiences at LSE in a lunchtime seminar on Monday 28 October. The talk was held as part of the Black History Month lunchtime lecture series by EmbRace, LSE’s BAME staff network.
Dr Camacho Felix presented her past research conducted at LSE and explored how decolonising the curriculum may reduce the BAME attainment gap and improve BAME student experiences.
2018 data on LSE undergraduates from the Higher Education Statistics Agency indicate Black and Asian students were 8.7 and 8.3 percentage points less likely to achieve First or Upper Second marks than their white peers, respectively.
Her previous work includes conducting focus groups and interviews with BAME students on their experiences at LSE. The resulting report, which was first published in March, identified “lack of belonging”, “loss of confidence”, and “feeling of neglect” as common sentiments among BAME students across departments and degree levels. Participants spoke on how students of colour were excluded from partaking fully in the Eurocentric curriculum and teaching at LSE.
Diversifying the curriculum was one of the report’s recommendations. In particular, it called for more authors from BAME or Global South backgrounds to be featured, along with a more diverse range of theoretical perspectives.
The talk on Monday will explore how LSE can reflect on its Eurocentric academic culture and teach ‘other ways of knowing’ in its curriculum.
In an email to The Beaver, Dr Camacho Felix highlighted the need for institutional change to address issues of inclusion. “BME attainment gaps and the experience of BME students is an institutional issue – it is representative of the School as an exclusionary space,” she said. “It is not due to these students lacking anything or needing fixing.”
She points to UAL and UCL as nearby examples of universities that have committed to providing the resourcing and staffing needed to eradicate the attainment gap in their institutions. UAL, for example, recently established its Decolonising Arts Institute which aims to address Eurocentrism in UAL’s art collections and teaching.
Dr Camacho Felix’s Inclusive Education Action Plan 2019/2020 was unveiled and accepted by the School in September. Drawing on her previous research, the Plan calls for stronger academic mentoring, de-biasing staff workshops, monitoring programmes for inclusivity, decolonising the curriculum, and embedding study skills into the curriculum.