Teaching & Learning


BAME Awarding Gap Funded Project: Institute for Global Health

Decolonising Population Health Sciences: Adapting and formalising faculty praxis and toolkit 

Rochelle Burgess, UCL Population Health Sciences 

Project dates: October 2021 – August 2023


In 2020-21, the Decolonising Global Health toolkit was developed by Dr Burgess in collaboration with students in the Institute for Global Health (IGH). The toolkit was designed in response to a long-standing awarding gap in the institute across MSc and iBSc modules, as well as qualitative feedback from focus groups with students about their experiences during teaching. At the end of the year, the project was recognised by a Faculty of Population Health Sciences teaching award in recognition of the project’s ability to increase student satisfaction and critical engagement. 

This project aims to adapt this toolkit faculty wide, with the primary aim of supporting the promotion of teaching praxis that is sensitive to contemporary and historical contexts that are often at the heart of the attainment gap, feelings of belonging, representation, and access for marginalised groups.

The project will ensure the operationalisation toolkit, leading to curriculum change, through the endorsement of senior staff and leadership in the faculty. Operationalisation of the toolkit will also be ensured through the process of developing specific new metrics that will be imbedded into student evaluations for pilot modules participating in the project, with the view to roll this out to the entire faculty.

The rationale for this project stems from understanding that educational participation and attainment are directly related to the capacity and ability of students to participate in learning environments where their culture, positionality, and various aspects of personhood are represented in their learning materials and methods of instruction. More simply put, students will perform better when they can see themselves, and their stories reflected in the materials they engage with (Friere, 1972). 

The toolkit at the heart of this project is informed by the following definition of decolonisation, which draws our attention to the ways in which power works in wider society to limit the voices and perspectives within knowledge production: 

Decolonisation is the process of revealing and dismantling [colonial] power in all its forms, this includes dismantling the hidden aspects of institutional and cultural forces that maintain power in oppressive forms.

Thus the toolkit ultimately offers a way to think through and respond to how current canons of knowledge across various disciplines portray particular groups in limited ways; to interrogate what voices are present or absent across the population health sciences; and to acknowledge how this shapes the capacities for underrepresented groups to engage with material. It does this through diversifying the content and modes of delivery of said content and promoting reflexive critical practice among staff and students to work with and produce new ways of thinking.


Freire, P. (1972). Pedagogy of the oppressed. Harmondsworth: Penguin