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Project Woke and Resistance


  • Start: August 2022
  • Duration: 2 years
  • Status: ongoing

Description

In the project Woke en Weerstand (Woke and Resistance), students and staff come together to discover how to work together as agonists (critical cooperatives), rather than as distrustful antagonists.


Worldwide, more and more students are asking critical questions about the knowledge-theoretic basis of their education. They criticize the curriculum for being too one-sidedly based on what they consider to be superior Western knowledge. This selective knowledge, they believe, does not adequately prepare them for living and working in a dynamic, pluralistic society and does not teach them enough about the possibilities of being able to contribute to a more just society. For example, students ask: Why is my Curriculum White? And state: No Democratization without Decolonization! Their criticisms are often laboriously received. Teachers, for example, speak of "infringement on academic freedom" and reject what they call "cancel-culture. Internationally, the debate has risen so high that politicians are getting involved and discussing it in the (social) media.


This is also playing out at the University of Humanistic Studies. In the Woke and Resistance project, students and staff come together to discover how to work together as agonists (critical cooperatives), rather than as distrustful antagonists. In seminars, dialogue afternoons and workshops, they will try to translate difficult and abrasive issues into curriculum revision in fruitful and concrete ways, taking into account diverse views. 


The project also has an international component: UvH graduates will engage in conversation with experience students and staff from South African universities. Although the contexts in the Netherlands (global North) and South Africa (global South) differ, there are also similar ideas, concerns and ambitions. Dialogue compares similarities and differences to gain a better understanding of why and how to position decolonization and anti-racism within universities. The final phase will include a national closing conference with poster and panel sessions, columns and lectures open to other universities and colleges.

Researchers

Dr. Caroline Suransky, project leader

with the help of junior lecturer Noortje Bot, student Farach Winter and study association Pluralistics

student assistant: Rosanne van Bruggen

student-assistant: Leen Kruithof

student assistant: Rebecca Lensink

Assistant student: Marishelle Lieberwerth

student-assistant: Brechje Meijers

Funding

UvH with assistance from Comenius Senior Fellowship grant from the National Educational Research Organization (NRO). The NRO is a division of NWO that focuses on improving and renewing education with knowledge from research. The idea for the Woke and Resistance project came about in consultation with the study association Pluralistiek. 

In the 'Woke en Weerstand' project, students and staff come together to discover how to work together as agonists (critical cooperatives), rather than as distrustful antagonists.