What is Liberating the Curriculum?

Liberating the Curriculum (LTC) is a UCL-wide initiative to celebrate teaching and practically create a more inclusive curriculum. It aims to move away from the conventional curriculum that is traditionally male dominated and Eurocentric, and give marginalised voices more attention when topics and references are chosen.

At UCL Medical School, this project is particularly important to us; when we are doctors we want to be able to provide the best possible care to all of our patients. By mapping our curriculum we are aiming to identify gaps in the education that we are provided, and create a manifesto for change.

At the LTC symposium in June 2017 we heard from many of our staff and students about some of the teaching that has already been implemented at the medical school, as well as thoughts from many of our students and educators about areas that still need work. We hope that by sharing some videos from this event that we can generate  a conversation that leads to further ideas and improvements in our medical education.

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Thoughts about the Symposium from audience members.


By Gemma Wells and Maihma Lamba

Decolonising the Curriculum

Decolonising the Curriculum is a public engagement event, to be held on 18 April 2018, at the Whittington UCL Lecture Theatre. We’ve planned an afternoon of quickfire panels, with plenty of public engagement, covering medical education, performance art and history. There’s something for everyone, no matter what your background.

Under the cut is some information about the speakers and panellists!

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Practical steps to a more inclusive curriculum – Part 2

In Part 1, we looked at the steps already taken to promote Liberating The Curriculum (LTC) themes in UCL Medical School teaching on Clinical and Professional Practice (CPP). In this post we will explore some of the ways in which there have been improvements, and some of the sessions that have been delivered to allow us as students to put our learning into practice.

Although there is a national curriculum for communication skills, and certain core sessions have been delivered in UCLMS for several years, one of the great things about the UCL CPP team is that they are receptive to ideas from their students about new sessions that could be included. Sometimes as a medical student, particularly in the pre-clinical years, it can be difficult to know what you don’t know. It might not be until you’re confronted with a challenging situation that you realise that it could have been covered in teaching. In the video below, Faye explains an example of a new session that is being developed based on student feedback.

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Faye Gishen on new additions to the curriculum.

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Personal Experiences

As well as the individual speakers presenting their research and experiences at the Liberating the Curriculum (LTC) symposium, there was also a panel of students and staff/speakers who discussed their own thoughts and reactions to the talks. Opening up the discussion led to some valuable stories and insights from our panel, whose individual experiences make for compelling viewing.

Our first video is an extract from a story that Maihma shared about her father’s experience in A&E.

Maihma sitting on a panel with other students and faculty in a sunny cafe.
Maihma talking about her experience with A&E.

Personally I found this to be a valuable reminder that people’s needs and priorities can vary significantly, and gaining informed consent should really include all the information about what will happen – not purely what you consider to be relevant. You can never be sure what people’s main concerns will be until you have actually asked them!

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The hidden curriculum and unconscious bias

An overarching theme of the Liberating the Curriculum (LTC) initiative is to question “the hidden curriculum” and “unconscious bias” and tackle these issues head on to create a more diverse and inclusive curriculum.

As Dr Lokugamage goes onto introduce us to these topics in the videos below, the hidden curriculum can be thought of as the informal lessons of particular ideas, values and attitudes, usually unintentionally taught to us throughout our education.

The problem with the hidden curriculum is that it can sometimes lead to unconscious bias – automatic judgments made by us, outside our conscious thought and rationale.

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The Hidden Curriculum.

It can be quite difficult to tackle the issue of unconscious bias quite simply because by definition we might not even be aware we hold these biases. However, at LTC we’re trying to go back to the curriculum and identify shortcomings so that we can tackle the issues from the root.

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Practical steps to a more inclusive curriculum – Part 1

Many of the speakers from the Liberating the Curriculum (LTC) symposium touched on three key steps to making our medical school curriculum more inclusive. These could be summarised as:

  1. Mapping the curriculum – what already exists?
  2. Identifying the gaps – what do we need to improve?
  3. Creating teaching sessions that fulfil these needs

In this post we will take a look at what is good about our current curriculum, and how we can approach mapping it to look for areas to improve. For an idea of some of the sessions delivered at UCL Medical School already, take a look at this video featuring Dr Faye Gishen, Academic Lead for Clinical and Professional Practice (CPP), where she describes some of the diverse topics that come up in the pre-clinical and clinical years.

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Faye Gishen on the current curriculum content.

Continue reading “Practical steps to a more inclusive curriculum – Part 1”