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NEWS: Seminar on A Complexity Approach to Decolonisation in Higher Education

The Chair for Critical Studies in Higher Education Transformation (CriSHET) and the Engagement and Transformation Portfolio at Nelson Mandela University are hosting a seminar by Prof Sharon Stein on 23 March 2023, 16h00-17h30 SAST on "A Complexity Approach to Decolonisation in Higher Education".

Please click here to register to join via Zoom.

Email to RSVP for in-person or for any queries.


Decolonisation has become a buzzword in higher education. However, this has not necessarily been accompanied by commitments to interrupt and redress the historical, systemic, and ongoing impacts of the university’s complicity in colonial (and Apartheid) violence. As a result, we often see commitments to decolonisation in theory, but the continuity of business as usual in practice. In many cases, this is the result of a desire on the part of those who benefit from the university-as-such to sustain their systemic advantages. However, the reproduction of colonial circularities in decolonisation efforts is also a result of the complexities involved in any effort to truly enact higher education otherwise.

In this talk, I offer a complexity-based approach to (de)colonisation in higher education that asks how we might navigate possibilities for decolonial change given the many overlapping layers of colonial and other harm that operate in any given context, the depth of our colonial (and Apartheid) socialisation (including the colonisation of our imaginations), and the challenge of discerning the most generative intervention in the context of our hypercomplex and hyper-polarized universities.

Professor Sharon Stein

Sharon Stein is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Educational Studies at the University of British Columbia, and a Visiting Professor with the Chair for Critical Studies in Higher Education Transformation at Nelson Mandela University. In her work, she asks how higher education can confront local and global challenges in more socially and ecologically accountable ways, particularly in relation to decolonisation, internationalisation, and climate action. She is a founding member of the Gesturing Towards Decolonial Futures Collective, and author of Unsettling the University: Confronting the Colonial Foundations of US Higher Education (JHU Press, 2022).


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