A New Course: Decolonizing Science and Technology

A New Course: Decolonizing Science and Technology

What is decolonization? How is our contemporary reality shaped by our colonial history? Why and how did the West gain its control and dominance over “the rest”? These questions are fundamental to the new Master’s course in Decolonizing Science and Technology.

Isha Shah, who works in the Water Resources Management Chair group, is the course coordinator and teacher, and is also one of the driving forces behind the Teachers’ Decolonization Initiative.
She was asked by the Knowledge, Technology and Innovation (KTI) Chair group to develop this course, given the importance of the topic and the students’ call for decolonization in Wageningen education.

Debates about decolonization in WUR are not isolated. “There is a call globally to decolonize higher education,” says Shah. “But the term decolonization is often not understood correctly. Then only Eurocentric ideas are discussed, while important discussions about (post)colonialism in recent decades in Asia, Africa and Latin America are left out. The aim of this course is to fill this gap By examining a variety of perspectives.

Integrated into KTI, the focus of the course is on science and technology in relation to the colonial period, explains Shah. “The course makes abstract debates concrete by analyzing four concrete examples of debate over science and technology – to better understand that decolonization is a long-term historical process.”

Recent controversies

When asked for an example, she cited a recent controversy in the history of science: an important innovation that shaped the core of the eighteenth century.HThe 20th century industrial revolution, which transformed Great Britain into a colonial and economic power, was stolen from 76 black Jamaican metal workers, many of whom lived in slavery. ‘These types of controversies are discussed in this course. Shah shows how our colonial history continues to leave its mark on the present.

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The course (6 ECTS) is offered in Period 1, is open to all Master’s students and consists of (guest) lectures and interactive sessions, drawing on both scientific literature and popular culture sources such as films and fiction. A trip to her World Museum In Amsterdam it is also part of the profession. You can register starting June 1 under OSIRIS code CPT59006.

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