In those days, the claim to an open mind was called reactionary, now western and rational

The Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (“Forum, the voice and conscience of science in the Netherlands”) may also claim that there is little going on, and the letters are less cooperative.

This week, the University of Amsterdam presented its so-called Decolonization Toolkit, intended for teachers and students. Just to be clear: Toolkit is the new magic word for a handbook with useful tips for everyday practice. In this case, the translators are the university’s Head of Diversity office staff – sorry readers, everything in science has to be in English these days.


As I write this, the related toolkit is still untraceable to me, but the University Journal Chips widely reported. By decolonization, I read there, the authors mean to “highlight and reinforce views and frames of reference alongside Western rationality. It is no longer considered the single superior framework, or method of analysis and reasoning.”

How do you reach that blessed country? Teachers can “pressure each other and their supervisors to develop action plans.” They could also make an argument for “enriching the curricula with non-Western and non-European sources and authors”.

Moreover, the handbook recommends making various workshops mandatory and Bold recruitment goals To set fixed quotas, so to speak. Even inside the classroom, according to its makers, requires decolonization. Now the tables are often divided into rows or U-shaped and the teacher is always on top. This setup can be more attractive, more secure, and more accessible.

They were formerly the brothers of De Boelelaan men equally busy with decolonization. A few months ago, VU’s chief diversity officer said he had developed an “action plan” to “increase cultural and ethnic diversity among staff, because the scientific staff in particular is disproportionately white.” And of course, a toolkit is in the works “with which universities can take a critical look at unilateralism in the curriculum.”

A short tour shows that the problem is also very lively outside of the A10. Last year, the director of the Center for Gender and Diversity at Maastricht University told ScienceGuide: “It is no longer acceptable for courses to present only publications written by white male researchers.”

And this summer, a task force advised Nijmegen Radboud University to create a safe space for students of color, among other things. In other words: a space where their fellow whites have to stay away. Diversity, equity and inclusion strategist told the University Journal Fox Being satisfied with ‘concrete and detailed’ recommendations. “Obviously the students and we as a university are on the same page.”


I believe it right away. Yet it remains astonishing how quickly the university world embraced this new gospel. After all, it was the occupation of Magdenhuis, where calls for decolonization and related demands were first raised, only six years ago. Now the ideas are fully accepted.

Certainly, it sometimes warns the driver of overtaking. In September, for example, Geert Ten Dam, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the University of Amsterdam, at the opening of the academic year. But that doesn’t seem to make a huge impression.

It’s no coincidence that this reminds me of the seventies that didn’t lose their stench either. At that time, science inspired by ideological thought conquered universities as easily as now – only then were the dictates of the Marxist image of man. The consequences were not pleasant. Scientists who studied the world from this perspective gave a lot of space, scientists who found a little injustice it was better to look for another job.

The only new thing seems to me that the mere defense of an open mind was called reactionary in those days, nowadays Western and rational. Absurdity remained. Also grief.

Elma Dreyer He is a Dutch scientist and journalist.

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