Skip to Main Content

Toolkit for Diversifying Reading Lists

Reviewing content in the context of social justice and decolonisation

Below is a series of prompts, designed to assist you in reviewing reading lists in the context of social justice and decolonisation.

  • Are there relevant voices in your field/discipline that are not represented on the list?  

  • Where were the resources published? Does this make a difference to the perspectives offered? 

  • Are resources on a particular theme, topic or culture discussed first-hand or by outside observers? Does this matter?  

  • Could the topic being studied mean something different to another community or culture?  

  • Looking at the list holistically, is it skewed towards perspectives or viewpoints on one side of a debate, or seen only through one paradigm?  

  • Are the identities of the authors relevant to the content of the resources, or are they incidental?  

  • Is there a balance of gender and ethnicity in the list? Could this influence the way the topic is understood/perceived?  

  • Is the resource translated from another language, or modified from another culture? Could this potentially affect its meaning?  

  • If you consider what you teach to be a 'neutral' subject in the context of this exercise, could it be approached through a cultural lens, e.g., ethnomathematics?     


How do I find out more about a particular author? 

If you don’t have one of their books in front of you (if you do, look for a bio) you could check to see if there’s any biographical information on their publisher’s website, Google the author to see if they have their own website or blog, or check Amazon for an author bio.  


How do I find out where an item was published? 

Apart from the book itself, the WorldCat record can also be helpful. In the book, look on the reverse of the title page where all the bibliographic and copyright information is usually found. This information may also be listed on the publisher’s website. Amazon usually tells you when a book was published, but not always where.  

Is there a quick and easy way to diversify reading list content? 

One way is to incorporate audio-visual materials like TED Talks, YouTube videos, or films and documentaries available via Planet eStream. Another way is to use journal articles. These are easily accessed via WorldCatlibrary databases and open access platforms. If you are interested in incorporating international content, authors’ institutional affiliations are often clearly displayed on these platforms. 

If a resource is potentially problematic, can I keep it on a list?  

The two most important factors when reviewing lists in this context are 1) ensuring the list is well-balanced overall in terms of voices and perspectives, and 2) adding student notes to provide context. You may choose to leave an item on a list precisely because it’s potentially problematic, e.g., to make a pedagogical point about its lack of diversity/balance/objectivity. If you do this, adding student notes for context will be especially important. 

What if reviewing a reading list for diversity leads to new book purchases - is there a budget for this? 

It is preferable to identify existing resources (content provided by the Library or accessible via Planet eStream) or open access materials that are are freely available online. However, if you believe that the purchase of additional resources would be useful please discuss this with your subject librarian.  

Where can I find the University's Guidance Notes on Creating and Reviewing Reading Lists?

Click here for a copy.