Currently, university curricula are primarily Eurocentric and exclusionary. The goal is to include non-Eurocentric and intersectional perspectives and ideas that can challenge ongoing colonialism, sexism, racism, classism, ableism and queerphobia. Therefore, we call for;
- The inclusion of non-Eurocentric perspectives in all university curricula. This applies to the humanities, the social sciences as well as the beta faculty. For example, medical students should also learn about non-Western medicinal practices in order to widen their appreciation of the concept of medicine.
- An active awareness of the fact that most required readings are written by predominantly White, middle class, cisgender, heterosexual males from Northern America or Europe. As practices of referencing in papers, presentations and essays are the way to build knowledge infrastructures, reading lists should therefore include literature written by people of colour, women, trans*, queer and differently abled scholars.
- Improving the awareness of how the history of science is taught with exclusions without referencing to practices of colonization and appropriation of indigenous knowledges. For example, a course should be offered to all beta students about the history of science in which attention is also given to non-Western influences on the dominant scientific paradigms. This will enable students of the beta department to realise that they are working on something within a large and diverse scientific history.
- Economics curricula have become so uniform that they largely exclude all competing theoretical and methodological approaches, whether Western or non-Western. We therefore specifically underline the recent international call for theoretical, methodological and interdisciplinary pluralism in all economics curricula.
Critical Study Departments
Specific study departments are needed to develop decolonial and non-Eurocentric literature with specialized teaching staff. Until now decolonial and non-western knowledge and approaches remain under appreciated in the Netherlands, which is a serious impediment to the progress of science. Such departments are also important steps in ending ongoing colonialism, sexism, racism, classism, ableism and queerphobia. Therefore, we call for;
- Departments that deal with cutting edge critical studies such as postcolonial/decolonial studies, subaltern studies, orientalism, critical race studies, women’s studies, queer studies, critical disability studies and intersectionality.
- In offering new courses and setting up research programs, attention should not only be paid to already existing university programs abroad, but also to subjects that apply specifically to the Netherlands (e.g. African-European studies, Caribbean studies, Black Dutch writers etc.).
- The courses offered in this department also need to be integrated into other university degree programs.
Universities remain relatively inaccessible to different groups. Therefore, it is necessary to ensure that excluded groups have better access to the institution. Therefore, we call for;
- Radically transparent hiring processes in order to break with unconscious reproductions of cultural normativity. This includes the advertisement of vacancies as wide as possible (also internationally) and the use of external review of the hiring processes.
- Affirmative action and quotas are needed on every level (assistant professors, professors, management board etc.) to promote more diversity.
- Banning of arbitrary university rankings as a criteria for attracting staff and students and PhD’s. Universities should discourage the use of rankings by never advertising its own ranks.
- Free education for all, regardless of immigration status. A first step towards this goal should be to make tuition fees dependent on income and free for students from lower income households (including those without legal immigration status).
- Establishment of support programs that aid high school students of colour, LGBTQIA+ students, first generation students, economically disenfranchised students and differently abled students to enter universities.
- Stimulating the transition of students of applied sciences to university.
- Stimulating other alternative pathways of entering universities besides VWO.
The university should be a safe, comfortable and inclusive environment for everyone. Therefore, we call for;
- The establishment of a clear and binding code of ethics that aims to make the university free of harassment, racism, sexism, classism, ableism, queerphobia and religious discrimination.
- All current and future teaching staff should be obliged to take a mandatory training on intercultural sensitivity and intersectionality.
- All university buildings should be accessible for differently abled people.
- There should be gender neutral restrooms at all university locations.
- There should not be an obligation to state one’s gender in any university documentation.
- Use of anonymous grading systems (mark the work, not the names).
Towards an Ethical University
The university should be a public space free from oppression and with an active and conscious commitment to avoid engaging in colonialist, imperialist and damaging practices such as sexism, racism, classism, ableism and queerphobia. Therefore, we call for;
- An independent investigation into the contribution of universities to the arms industry.
- Universities should cut their ties with exploitative and destructive organisations, such as those involved in wars, military occupations and damaging the environment. This includes, but is not limited to, immediate divestment from the fossil fuel industry and from all companies which make a profit from the Israeli state’s occupation of Palestine.
- Instead, universities should engage with and invest in ethically responsible organizations.
- Full and obligatory transparency in additional functions of professors and clear binding guidelines on what constitutes a conflict of interests.
- Actively promoting publications in open-access journals, building infrastructure for more open-access journals and committing to normalizing the publishing in open-access journals over journals based on copyrights.
- A reduction of the pay gap and workload gap between different staff positions (academic and non-academic).
- Abolition of the gender pay gap.