W8: Behind the Black Butterfly: An interactive project walkthrough to share insights on how to make your researcher training more inclusive

What do we mean by 'decolonisation' or 'decoloniality'?

We are very aware that there are variations of the term 'decolonisation' and its application, depending on the context.

When we use the term 'decolonisation' within the frame of researcher development here, we mean the act of consciously rethinking, reframing and reconstructing academic practice (including our training) to acknowledge its exclusionary assumptions, and the racialised and historical structures that are the legacy of colonialism.

The 'decolonial' method of inquiry and critique that we refer to involves a proactive attempt to decentre whiteness, Western knowledge and Eurocentric narratives within our own researcher curriculum design.

By 'decolonising training', we refer to the process of practically embedding sector-wide established inclusive teaching and learning approaches within the design and review of our researcher training provision. This is transformative because it allows the training room to become a critical space where ethnic minoritised PGR voices and alternative perspectives are more visibly represented.

Decolonisation is also a unique method of personal reflection and self-critique, which helps us to acknowledge our own biases and blind spots as practitioners. It is an emerging form of EDI practice that has been adopted wholeheartedly by some HEIs to address diversity, structural racism and awarding gaps.

Our process involves interrogating our learning content through the lens of an EDI protected characteristic e.g. race and ethnicity. We deconstruct our training materials and delivery to reveal its hidden curriculum and identify where it may only be speaking to white majority researchers. We then build in alternative perspectives through collaborations with and insights from people of colour. We redesign the content so it encompasses more diverse examples; better ensuring that minoritised researchers' experiences are being reflected and their identities represented. We believe this is an effective and practical way of improving BAME researcher belonging.

Decolonisation practice also allows a development professional to better address the barriers faced by marginalised groups and understand how academic practice can bias knowledge production/dissemination in doctoral education.