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Reading lists and equality, diversity and inclusion

Why is change needed?

Universities are increasingly scrutinizing their reading lists in terms of diversity of authorship and subject matter, and Leeds Trinity is no exception.  

The following quotation illustrates why this is important: 

“The dominance of scholars from the global North is widespread, and this extends to the student curriculum. Data on reading lists shows large authorial imbalances, which has consequences for the methodological tools available in research and allows dominant paradigms in disciplines to remain unchallenged. 

Students have long recognised that their reading lists are skewed towards a Eurocentric understanding of the world. I still remember my frustration looking at my reading list for a course I took during my undergraduate degree entitled ‘The state and politics in Africa’. The course started directly with a discussion of the colonial era, providing us with no insights on pre-colonial Africa as if the continent’s political history started with the arrival of European powers. To make things worse, the reading list contained almost exclusively Western authors.” 

El Kadi, T.H. (2019, March 15). How diverse is your reading list? (probably not very..). GP Opinion. 

Audit of reading lists at Leeds Trinity

In Autumn 2021, we carried out a sample audit of 10 modules across different programmes and academic levels, using an audit tool with the kind permission of Manchester Metropolitan University.  

Key findings from this were that: 

  • Only 5.6% of authors were identifiably of BAME origin 
  • 45.7% of authors were identified as female 
  • Only one work in the sample originated in the global South, with the UK and USA overwhelmingly dominant as places of publication. 

This is broadly similar to findings at other Universities. 

From Spring 2022 onwards, the Library team plans to work with the Office for Institutional Equity and specific discipline areas to audit reading list diversity and assist academic colleagues to identify more diverse content where this is required.  

Examples of good practice around diverse reading lists

We are fortunate to be able to draw on examples of good practice in terms of decolonizing reading lists from other institutions, and our own.  

Practical tips on diversifying your reading list