Picture of a flat bottomed flask on top of a periodic table

The University of York’s plan to decolonise Chemistry

If you are interested in how chemistry can be more inclusive and diverse, you should read this article by Nature. It tells the story of how a group of chemists at the University of York are working to decolonise their curriculum and address systemic racism in their field.

They are doing this by revising their course content, diversifying their reading lists, creating a safe space for dialogue and mentoring students from underrepresented backgrounds. The article also highlights some of the challenges and opportunities that come with this initiative, such as balancing different perspectives, engaging with stakeholders and measuring impact. This is a great example of how chemistry can be more relevant and responsive to the needs of society and science.

Avtar Matharu, co-lead of YCEDE’s Workstream 2 and director of the master’s course in green chemistry, is at the forefront of this initiative. “Universities are institutionally racist,” he says, but adds that calls for change are too strong for institutions to ignore. “Every university has to respond to the issue,” Matharu says.