Durham University Maths curriculum to be “decolonized”. A new guide has been issued to academics. It urges them to make their subject more inclusive and to think about the ‘cultural origins” of concepts that they are teaching.

  • Durham University asks mathematicians to answer questions about their backgrounds.   
  • A new guide urges staff to be more inclusive in maths to “decolonise” topic
  • The staff should ask themselves why they are citing work by’mostly black’ mathematicians.

Durham University’s new guidance has called for professors to include maths in their curriculum and take into account the cultural roots of concepts that they are teaching. 

The prestigious institution, ranked seventh in the UK for their maths curriculum, asked academics to question themselves if they are citing ‘mostly white or male’ mathematicians in a bid to ‘decolonise’ the syllabus and make the topic ‘more open’.

All staff have been asked to ‘consider giving short biographies’ of the research they will be citing within the module to ensure the subject ‘can be used to assist in trying to achieve equality’.

According to the guide, if mathematics professionals are almost entirely (or even totally) white or male then ask why. See if you can find contributions to the field from mathematicians of other genders/ethnicities’.  

A new guide has urged professors at Durham University (pictured) to make their maths curriculum 'more inclusive' and to consider the 'cultural origins' of concepts they teach

Durham University professors (pictured) have been urged by a new guide to be more inclusive and consider cultural origins of math concepts.

The prestigious institution, ranked seventh in the UK for their maths curriculum, asked academics to question themselves if they are citing 'mostly white or male' mathematicians in a bid to 'decolonise' the syllabus. Pictured: Durham University

In an effort to “decolonize” the curriculum, the prestigious college was ranked seventh in the UK. Pictured: Durham University 

The guide says that if mathematicians are 'almost completely (or even completely) white and / or male, ask yourself why they are'

According to the guide, if mathematicians appear ‘almost entirely (or even totally) white and/or male, then ask yourself why. 

According to The Telegraph, Durham University scientists were asked to investigate how the ‘power of 10, represented by the word “billion”, ‘differs from country to country’, and how ancient Indian astronomer Brahmagupta ‘assigned a different meaning to the value of zero.’  

According to their website, decolonizing the mathematics curriculum means examining the cultural roots of mathematical concepts, focusses and the notation that we most often use. 

Also, Professors were asked to consider whether they could present contexts outside of the Western framework of reference when explaining problems using examples.

The institution added: ‘It involves ensuring the global project to expand our understanding of mathematics genuinely global, and frankly assessing the discipline’s failures – past and present – to work toward that aim.

“Whether we allowed Western mathematicians or western writers to rule in our discipline is just as relevant as whether they allowed them to be dominant in literature. 

‘It may even be important, if only because mathematics is rather more central to the advancement of science than is literature’.

Durham University students staged a protest last December at South College for a 'safer more inclusive Durham University' after columnist Rod Liddle's appearance at the college

Durham University students protested South College’s decision to make Durham University more inclusive after Rod Liddle, the columnist appeared there.

At the time, South College principal Professor Tim Luckhurst (pictured) was criticised for yelling 'pathetic' as students left the talk

South College Principal Tim Luckhurst was criticized for shouting ‘pathetic’ at students who left the talk.

MailOnline reached out to Durham University in order for comments. 

The university is undergoing a review of its policy regarding external speakers. This follows an ugly row that resulted in students leaving a post-dinner talk by Rod Liddle in December.

Protesters claimed that the university seeks a systematic cover-up of the controversy. This is based on comments Mr Liddle made about how it had failed to support marginalised student throughout.

South College principal Tim Luckhurst was criticised at that time for his sarcastic yelling as students left. 

He has now resumed his duties at the beginning of this academic term after stepping back.