The Clothes on Our Back: A Collaborative Project to Diversify The Curriculum in Higher Education

Tony Kalume, Jess Moriarty

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceeding with ISSN or ISBNChapterpeer-review


A report by the UK National Union of Students (NUS), ‘Race for equality’ (NUS, 2011) identified continuing, unresolved issues around BAME student participation within HE. Student dissatisfaction was highlighted with 42% of BAME students who took the survey stating they did not believe their curriculum reflected issues of diversity, equality and discrimination, and a third (34%) stated they felt they could not bring their views to lectures, noting that institutions often ‘did not take into account diverse backgrounds and views’ (NUS, 2011:4).

This collaborative education research article reports on a project with Diversity Lewes, the University of Brighton and Brighton Museum that engaged members of the BAME community in Sussex and university students and staff to work on archival material and create poems, textiles and prose. The workshops focused on identity and clothing and looked at the history of the Khanga, which is a sarong popular in parts of Africa (Kalume et al. 2018). These fabrics contain symbols and messages that relate to autobiographical experiences including empowering sayings and statements. The workshops generated material for an exhibition in Black History Month at The Brighton Dome and at the University of Brighton.

We argue that this project offered pedagogic opportunities in higher education that arose from the collaboration and partnership: bringing together community partners and academia in the spirit of social justice to tackle issues of diversity and inclusion by celebrating identity via the clothes on our backs.

Please note that this article uses Black Asian Minority Ethnic (BAME) as this is the term used in much education research on this topic but we respect that it is not a term that many people would use to describe themselves and apologise for any offence caused.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSocially Engaged Creative Practice
Subtitle of host publicationContemporary Case Studies
EditorsKate Aughterson, Jess Moriarty
PublisherIntellect Books
ISBN (Print)9781789388879
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 1 Mar 2021

Bibliographical note

Not yet published


  • Diversity
  • Creative writing
  • Autoethnography
  • Museum
  • Archive
  • Pedagogy


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