Academia tends to be dominated by the work of white, English-speaking, European or Northern American scholars, due to the historical power of these groups, so we have to take steps to promote other viewpoints.
We want students to evaluate a wide variety of perspectives to help them develop critical thinking, and we want to show students that they can contribute to their discipline, by using and valuing the work of scholars who are like them.
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.
In Autumn 2021, we carried out a sample audit of 10 modules across different programmes and academic levels, using an audit tool developed by Manchester Metropolitan University.
Key findings were:
This is broadly similar to findings at other universities.
The Library team is working 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.
Diversity is in the content of the work, but the author's characteristics - such as gender, ethnicity (including race, religion and nationality), sexuality, class, disability, or neurodivergence - may influence how likely a work is to contain diverse perspectives.
More sources of diverse texts are listed on the Library's Equality, Diversity and Inclusion page
It's generally easier to find journal articles, book chapters, or videos by underrepresented authors than it is to find whole books, as the barrier to creation is lower.