The Need and Desire for Inclusive Universities: A Perspective from Development Studies

Open Access Journal | ISSN: 2183-2803

Commentary | Open Access

The Need and Desire for Inclusive Universities: A Perspective from Development Studies


  • Stephen Thompson Participation Inclusion and Social Change Research Cluster, Institute of Development Studies, UK


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Abstract:  In recent times there has been sustained momentum to address inequalities within university faculties and improve the diversity of students. Also, in response to historical and current social injustices, universities have sought to decolonize curricula. These progressive movements have had particular significance for departments focused on development studies and related subjects because the need to be inclusive is not only the right thing to do from a moral position, but also because to be exclusive is fundamentally challenging to the conceptualization and philosophy of the discipline. Development is a contested term but addressing inequality and working towards social justice are common themes found across most definitions. This commentary provides a critical insight into the importance of inclusive universities as gatekeepers to equitable knowledge production and the development of future professionals. To play their part in addressing the challenges posed by a globalized world, universities need to be proactive in ensuring that they become fully and meaningfully inclusive. While all university departments would benefit from becoming more inclusive, departments focused on development must be the pioneers leading the way, as inclusivity is relevant to the delivery of development studies, as well as emerging as an important discourse within the discipline that continues to evolve. This commentary will explore how and why in an increasingly interconnected global society, the need for universities to leave no one behind, and challenge hegemonic and unequal structures has never been greater.

Keywords:  decolonization; development studies; inclusion; universities

Published:   21 July 2021


DOI: https://doi.org/10.17645/si.v9i3.4096


© Stephen Thompson. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.