This guidance has been created to aid teaching staff who are looking to review and diversify reading lists in the context of the UCL-wide Liberating the Curriculum initiative.
This page is a work in progress and we welcome your feedback and contributions.
We use the term 'Liberating' to encompass the many diversifying and decolonising initiatives, without emphasis on any topic or group of people. This page does not cover all Library Liberating activities, instead enjoying the narrow focus of reading lists only.
For help with reading list content please contact your Subject Liaison or Site Librarian.
For additions or corrections to this page, the guide author is ReadingLists@UCL.
Liberating the Curriculum for ReadingLists@UCL - an online reading list set up by the library looking particularly at Decolonising and Liberating work with reading lists. To contribute resources, follow the note at the top of the list.
Box of Broadcasts (BoB) has a rich store of audiovisual playlists complied by UK Universities. Use the search function to look for public playlists on Decolonising, Liberating and other related subjects. Kanopy is a collection of film and documentaries. UCL login required.
Liberating the Curriculum [BoB Playlist]. This playlist of TV and radio programmes on this topic, curated by a UCL user.
Black lives matter: broaden my bookshelf [BoB playlist] from the University of Huddersfield.
Disability Pride Month [BoB playlist] created by the University of the Arts London (Wimbledon College of Arts Library)
Critical Race and Ethnic Studies [Kanopy playlist] Selected by Kanopy, this collection contains documentaries and films on topics including Identity, Asian-American stories, and Racism.
Online reading lists are rich in useful data which can be extracted if you wish to analyse the content for diversity (see the box to the right on how to extract data). Several studies have used different approaches to this, for example Imperial and LSE. Limitations to this approach include the problematic issue of identifying race, gender or background from author names; inferring readings are Global South / North from publisher or place of publication (and the broad-brush assumptions about views in those areas); and there being no indicator of the nuance of different views or voice within bibliographic metadata. Nonetheless, it can be a helpful starting point to take an overview of your list before moving into deeper analysis.
Here two projects from UCL departments use reading lists to consider diversity in their modules.
The UCL Inclusive Curriculum Project looked at the diversity of teaching staff and curriculum, using reading lists. The project was run by academic and student collaborators. The reading list data was enriched with the addition of coding for topic and diversity of ideas, as well as the gender of the person who selected the module readings. The study findings include outcomes you might expect of reading list data: author gender and ethnicity, and geographic location. However the additional coding allowed for findings on inclusivity of topics, diversity of ideas /approaches, and how the person setting the readings could affect the diversity of readings chosen. The team published article on their project.
A follow up project, the Shadow Curriculum Project, is underway. One of its outcomes will be an annotated reading list of diverse readings.
Economics quantitative analysis
Economics were interested in analysing undergraduate reading lists. They contacted ReadingLists@UCL to request data from their online reading lists. After outlining what they would find helpful, we sent two reports: all reading lists for their department for the current academic year; and a report of 'all items' in their reading lists, detailing the bibliographic data such as author name, place of publication etc.
We will add to this case study when we have an update on how this project went and any outcomes!
These interdisciplinary subject guides, subject specific reading lists and toolkits have been curated by UCL departments or UCL Library. Re-use readings in your own reading lists, discover new works or authors, or direct students or colleagues to these pages when evaluating your modules.
If you set up your own Liberated resource let us know and we will link to it here.
If you wish to analyse your reading list using its bibliographic data, there are a few options.
Use your reading list to gain your students' feedback on diversity in course readings.
The process encourages information literacy, search skills, research skills, and also analysis of diversity - in itself an information literacy skill.
You may benefit from your students' different backgrounds, perspective and education, in the form of new suggestions in your subject area.
Research from Northumbria and York St. John Universities explores the criminology curriculum using an 'Intersectionality Matrix' [Open Access article]. The matrix is a simple exercise that can be applied to any list of resources, on any discipline. It encourages deep evaluation and is a strong visual output of the diversity of the readings, and a good springboard for discussion.
Use the matrix when planning a new course, or evaluating your reading list. Do the exercise with fellow co-ordinaors or academics, and include colleagues from different backgrounds for a broader view.
The exercise in this paper is aimed at student participation and can be utilised in the classroom as a pedagogic tool for critical information skills training.