In order to start a decolonised institution, Melz Owusu has managed crowdfund £60,000
She has addressed seminars, performed at academic conferences and given a TED talk to try to decolonise higher education, but realised that it wasn’t a realistic idea with the way the structures of the university are currently.
She said that universities are “built on colonisation – the money, buildings, architecture – everything is colonial.” This gave her the idea of a Free Black University. Owusu has won backing from both the University and College Union and National Union of Students.
She is due to start a PhD in epistemic justice at the University of Cambridge in October, and her fundraising campaign aims to raise £250,000 to get the project up and running by the autumn.
The key aim, is to persuade universities to “redistribute” money to the initiative by making an annual donation. The Free Black University is to benefit their students and the community as a whole.
The idea had been around for a while but the recent surge of interest in Black Lives Matter, has brought it forward, said Osuwu. “It feels like there is a growth of collective understanding of how deeply racism is entrenched in our society and realising how little has been done to challenge that at the core.”
A team of PhD students, activists and recent graduates are putting together the project with the aim of having a legal structure in place before October. The syllabus is to be focused around sociological, historical and philosophical approaches to black liberation but could also move into more scientific and creative areas.
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