What a new university in Africa is doing to decolonise social sciences

Added: 07-17-2018

This article summarizes the seven goals Jess Auerbach of the African Leadership University has proposed for a new African History course. The course is innovative in its methods to teach African history in a decolonized way through experiential learning, non-English text and open source materials. 

literature and writing ethics African language historiography decoloniality history foremost written Mauritius English deconstruction course academic

Type Reading Time Author Date Source
article 10 minutes JESS AUERBACH 05-13-2017 https://theconversation.com/
Type Reading Time
article 10 minutes
Author Date
jess auerbach 2018-07-17 00:00:00 UTC
Key Takeaways

  • The goal of Auerbach’s new course is to move away from the predominantly Eurocentric view and narrative about African history; to reframe and rethink the way African history is taught.
  • Auerbach’s course includes innovative learning methods that recognize the wealth of information that lies outside the typical written English-language academic setting.


This article summarizes the steps that the African Leadership University in Mauritius is taking to decolonize its social sciences curriculum. Auerbach recognizes the long history of South Africa and has designed the following goals to achieve this:

  1. By 2019, everything we assign our students will be open source  
    By avoiding the use of exclusive of private academic materials, Auerbach seeks to discourage piracy and encourage inclusion.

  2. Language beyond English  
    By assigning one text not in English per week, Auerbach aims to broaden discussion and humble students to the immense knowledge that lies outside the English language.

  3. 1:1 Student exchange ratio  
    Auerbach intends to send one student abroad for each student they accept at their institution to limit the continuation of imperial era academic tourism.

  4. Text is not enough  
    Experiential learning will support curriculum on African history, because much was not recorded in writing or was written by outsiders. To account for this Auerbach aims to study "artefacts, music, advertising, architecture, food," etc. in addition to texts.

  5. We cannot work alone  
    Auerbach will supplement her staff’s teaching with lectures and lessons from diverse sources, allowing wide range of people to offer their experience to the course.

  6. Producers, not only consumers  
    Auerbach will encourage students to produce content and express their thoughts on subjects, through a variety of media.

  7. Ethics above all  
    Ethics will be paramount, taking precedent in all forms of discussion, making sure to respect all parties.

The goal of this program is to find a more sustainable alternative to the historically biased and one-sided subject of African history, which is often taught from the viewpoint of English text and European viewpoints.