Understanding the value of Decolonizing the Curriculum work to LSHTM

Dear colleagues,

We are writing with some concern over the recent ad for the Decolonizing the Curriculum facilitator position. As you know, we are very supportive of having a paid role to do this work; however, the remuneration offered (xxxxxxx) seems merely symbolic. It is certainly not proportional to the rather expansive role proposed in the job description or to the existing demand for this work among departments and faculty members who are keen to learn more about decolonization.

Further, as the job description encourages applications from individuals with lived experience and the majority of racially minoritized academic staff have lower paid jobs, this could be perceived as another example of institutional racism, with LSHTM undervaluing the work and contributions of these staff members.

We know that there are conflicting perspectives in terms of the real workload entailed; indeed, three different people at the committee meeting - participants not affiliated with Black Lives Matter-LSHTM - expressed their belief that this position would be quite demanding and time-consuming. However, unfortunately, the final outcome was to move forward with the positions as initially proposed.

Like the colleagues who raised their concerns at the outset, we consider that the facilitator position could quickly exceed the allocated remuneration, and may easily occupy 10 hours/week or more, between reviewing curricular materials, dialoguing with students, and communicating/educating faculty (the recent student-reported bias incident – and the course organizers’ reaction to it – exemplifies the kind of challenges these facilitators will face). If the position is intended to occupy no more than a couple of hours a week (as suggested by the compensation offered), we recommend limiting the scope and clarifying the specifications to avoid having dedicated facilitators under-report the amount of work they do each week, or move through the allotted budget very quickly.

To reconcile these perspectives, we would propose hourly compensation (no less than £20/hour), for example, capped at something like 10 hours/week. We believe this approach has several advantages: it provides enough flexibility so that the compensation corresponds with the actual workload; it is more motivating and clear to candidates (and their supervisors), who can better decide if they have the capacity to dedicate the time needed for this work; and it creates clear and realistic boundaries so that facilitators can manage requests. Moreover, this would open the position up to candidates with shorter-term contracts, who represent a potential pool of qualified professionals with a good understanding of LSHTM and may benefit from the opportunity to keep employment with the School when their existing contracts come to an end.

Finally, we also have some doubts about XXXXXX’s proposed role as the focal point for this position and the recruitment process. We are conscious that this is an added responsibility for her on what is undoubtedly an already demanding schedule, so we appreciate her willingness to assume this role. However, we are not aware of any specific training that XXXXXXX has in decolonization. In this sense, we wonder whether involving the entire Education Contingency Committee on Decolonizing the Curriculum in the recruitment and selection process would be more appropriate. Although most committee members likewise have no formal training in decolonization, this approach would be more inclusive, transparent, and amenable to collective discussion.

Thanks for your consideration, and best wishes,

BLM Steering Committee