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Curriculum as Contestation

S. Shay, T. Peseta, Curriculum as Contestation, Routledge 2018, 130 pages, ISBN: 9780815399674 

In 2015 a social movement swept across the South African higher education sector fuelled by the anger of the ‘born free’ generation, the students born into post-apartheid South Africa. The movement found solidarity in other parts of the globe where the past decade has witnessed the rise of student protests in the UK, the US, Chile, Turkey and Hong Kong to name a few. While the demands are specific to national contexts, the underlying obstacles of economic, cultural and political access into higher education are consistent. These protests have put a spotlight on the global academy that, like the society of which it is a part, is increasingly characterized by inequality. At its core these movements call for a more socially just higher education system. This call is profoundly dissonant to the dominant neoliberal discourses currently shaping higher education.
Against the backdrop of these discourses there has been an unprecedented pressure on higher education curricula. This edited collection is dedicated to exploring what a socially just curriculum reform agenda might involve. The authors share a commitment to socially just curricula and a concern about the ways in which curricula are deeply implicated in the processes of producing and reproducing inequality. Each chapter opens up a different vista on the contested curriculum space drawing on a range of theoretical tools – Archer, Bernstein, Giroux, and Maton to name a few – to illuminate the contestation. Perhaps even more importantly they also draw on a range of voices from both inside and outside the academy. This book was originally published as a special issue of Teaching in Higher Education. Routledge