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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Plagues, Pathogens, and Pedagogical Decolonization: Reflecting on the Design of a Decolonized Pandemic Syllabus

  • Author(s): Primiano, Samantha J
  • Krishnan, Ananya
  • Sangaramoorthy, Thurka
  • et al.

Published Web Location Commons 'BY-NC' version 4.0 license

Funded by a Teaching Innovation Grant designed to transform traditional in-person courses into engaging and equitable online spaces, we designed the introductory anthropology course, Plagues, Pathogens, and Public Policy. The course is 15 weeks and is organized thematically around pressing topics and conversations concerning the social, political, and cultural dimensions of pandemics. While the COVID-19 global pandemic has intensified the pertinence of the course’s content, recent discourse on systemic racism and police brutality in the United States has also drawn renewed attention to the lack of inclusivity and accessibility within anthropological academia. Thus, with the design of this syllabus, we sought to decolonize our course content and pedagogy as a means of contributing to ongoing efforts towards inclusivity in academia. Our approach to a decolonized and inclusive syllabus included diversifying course content as well as constructing accessible language, assignments, and course policies. The following commentary outlines our goals for this endeavor and describes the process of creating this course. We detail our experiences with employing a decolonizing framework and present a guide for reading our completed syllabus so that we may encourage the development of more spaces where students can engage with and understand the benefits of decolonized scholarship.


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