UCL Grand Challenges


Cultures of Decolonisation

Mapping decolonisation research initiatives across UCL.

animation of heads of different figures in wide range of pastel colours

23 January 2023


Grant: Ad-hoc support
Year awarded: 2021-22
Amount awarded: £5,000


  • Professor Doug Bourn, Institute of Education
  • Simon Eten Angyagre, Institute of Education
  • Ysabel Hannam, Institute for Global Health
  • Professor Tariq Jazeel, Geography
  • Dr Helene Neveu Kringelbach, Anthropology
  • Professor Audrey Prost, Institute for Global Health

Cultures of Decolonisation at UCL, a research initiative of the UCL Grand Challenge of Cultural Understanding Working Group, was developed to assess decolonisation in research structures, norms, and practices at UCL. It builds on a range of initiatives undertaken within UCL on decolonisation since 2018. Most of these initiatives have focused on curriculum matters, but this project aimed to map decolonising research initiatives and examine the extent to which the institution’s research structures and norms facilitate and support these.

To do so, the project undertook a series of in-depth interviews with forty six academics, twelve professional services staff, and eight doctoral students drawn from across UCL. Additionally, two separate online surveys were run.

Cultures of Decolonisation Report Front Cover

Discussions were then drawn together into a major report, combining a review of academic literature, project reports and websites of decolonising research projects within UCL, the UK, and globally. 

The project's final report makes a number of observations about ways in which decolonisation themes can be more directly reflected in areas such as support to doctoral students, revision of ethical frameworks, and international collaborations. 

The report includes a set of recommendations and it is envisaged that this report will lead to discussions amongst all faculties and departments across UCL on how cultures of decolonisation can be more directly reflected in their activities.

Following the report launch, in July 2023 a policy roundtable was held, with speakers from the Higher Education Policy Institute and the Dorcas Inclusive Education, among other organisations. Discussions addressed findings from the report, focusing on the interplay of EDI and decolonisation initiatives in universities and their uptake in Higher Education policy and practice. The participating audience, mostly from the UCL community but also representatives from external organisations such as the Runneymede Trust, engaged in the discussions by raising questions and commenting on the findings of the report as well as presentations from the speakers. The video recording of the event can be accessed here