Bergen Summer Research School

Global Inequalities in Higher Education and the Arts

In the field of higher education, what could a decolonized curriculum look like, and how might public funding for arts and culture benefit from a decolonized approach? Inequalities have been an enduring challenge for centuries, but higher education and arts are increasingly recognized as powerful vehicles of positive change.

Main content

Course leaders
David G. Hebert, Professor, Faculty of Education, Western Norway University of Applied Sciences (Bergen).
Erlend Eidsvik, Professor, Department of Pedagogy, Religion and Social Studies, Western Norway University of Applied Sciences (Bergen).

Guest lecturers
Emily Achieng’ Akuno, Professor of music, Technical University of Kenya, and Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic Affairs) at the Co- operative University of Kenya.
Tara Pandeya, dancer, cultural activist,choreographer.
Alexis Kallio, Deputy Director (Research) of the Queensland Conservatorium, Griffith University.
Lesley Le Grange, Distinguished Professor of Education, Stellenbosch University.
Suriamurthee Maistry , Profoessor, School of Education, University of Kwazulu-Natal.
Nasim Niknafs, Associate Professor of Music Education, University of Toronto.

Decolonization is a concept that has attracted much attention across recent years in the fields of higher education and the arts, but to what extent are its arguments, and their origins, understood? What are the driving forces behind the processes of decolonization, and what constitutes these different forces? What might be the limits of decolonization, and how do its mechanisms relate to globalization as well as efforts to bolster social justice and reduce inequality?  

This course examines global challenges associated with access to quality higher education and sustainability of arts heritage, both of which are concerns highlighted in the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. We will examine the contested issues related to inequalities in curricula and public funding in different geographical (state) contexts.

Specifically, we will consider both theoretical and practical writings, from a range of authors and fields, to determine how they conceptualize global inequalities and the role of education and arts in creating opportunities for poverty reduction and enhanced quality of life. Among the contemporary epistemic challenges that we will address are decolonization movements: their origins, strategies, and range of activities. 

Session topics

  • Global Inequalities in Higher Education 
  • Understanding Decolonization Movements
  • Inequalities and the Arts 
  • SDGs, Heritage and Cultural Diversity 

Learning outcomes
Students will:

  • Understand how concerns for education, heritage, and cultural diversity are reflected in the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals 
  • Recognize how participation in arts and higher education can promote broader recognition of inequalities and may contribute to poverty reduction 
  • Understand diverse ways that the Decolonization concept is defined, and its origins are explained. 
  • Recognize how Decolonization is understood to intersect with concerns regarding globalization, inequality and social justice. 
  • Identify ways that the Decolonization concept has been used in projects to rethink various higher education fields and artistic practices, as well as challenges associated with efforts to promote “decolonized” approaches.
  • Produce research publications based on the course material.


Participation at the BSRS is credited under the European Credit Transfer System (ECTS). Participants submitting an essay, in a form of a publishable manuscript of 10-20 pages, after the end of the summer school will receive 10 ECTS. Deadline for submission will be decided by your course leader.

It is also possible to participate without producing an essay. This will give you 4 ECTS. In order to receive credits, we expect full participation in the course-specific modules, plenary events and roundtables.

Course leaders

David G. Hebert is Professor in the Faculty of Education at Western Norway University of Applied Sciences (Bergen). He is also manager of the Nordic Network for Music Education, Professor II with Lund University, and an Honorary Professor with the Education University of Hong Kong. His scholarly interests include comparative education, music, educational technology, and cultural heritage policy. A widely published and cited researcher (h-index: 15), he has published several books, as well as articles in 35 different professional journals, and has worked for universities on five continents.

Erlend Eidsvik is a Professor of sustainability and climate Bildung at Western Norway University of Applied Sciences (HVL). He holds a PhD in geography from the University of Bergen. Since 2012, Eidsvik has worked in teacher education at HVL. He teaches topics related to geography, sustainability and knowledge politics at master and PhD-level. His research includes issues on education and sustainability, geographical literacy, climate literacy, postcolonial theory and political ecology. He is heading a research group in Comparative Education, as well as research collaborations with partner institutions in South Africa.


Allen, Jafari Sinclaire & Jobson, Ryan Cecil (2016). The decolonizing generation: (Race and) theory in anthropology since the eighties. Current Anthropology, 57(2), 129-148. DOI: 10.1086/685502

Connell, Raewyn. (2018). Decolonizing sociology. Contemporary Sociology, 47(4), 399-407.

Davids, Nuraan and Waghid, Yusef. (2018). Indigeneity and African education: Cultivating decolonized university teaching and learning. In John E. Petrovic and Roxanne M. Mitchell (Eds.), Indigenous Philosophies of Education Around the World. Routledge. 

Fomunyam, Khedinga G. & Khoza, Simon Bheki (2021). Curriculum Theory, Curriculum Theorising, and the Theoriser. The African Theorizing Perspective. Leiden: Brill 

Go, Julian. (2016). Postcolonial Thought and Social Theory. Oxford University Press.

Harrison, Klisala. (2013). The relationship of poverty to music. Yearbook for Traditional Music, 45, 1-12  

Hebert, David G. (2021). Editorial Introduction: Global competence, decolonization, and Asian educational philosophies. Nordic Journal of Comparative and International Education (NJCIE)5(2), 1–7. https://doi.org/10.7577/njcie.4158

Mbembe, Achille Joseph. (2016). Decolonizing the university: New directions. Arts & Humanities in Higher Education, 15(1), 29-45. 

Mignolo, Walter D. (2021): Coloniality and globalization: a decolonial take, Globalizations, 18(5), 720-737. DOI: 10.1080/14747731.2020.1842094 

Ranasinha, Ruvani (2019). Guest Editorial: Decolonizing English. Journal of Commonwealth Literature, 54(2), 119-123. DOI: 10.1177/0021989419837026  

Sharma-Brymer V. (2009) Reflecting on Postcolonialism and Education: Tensions and Dilemmas of an Insider. In: Cowen R., Kazamias A.M. (eds) International Handbook of Comparative Education. p. 655- 668. Springer International Handbooks of Education, vol 22. Springer, Dordrecht. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4020-6403-6_42

Smith, Linda Tuhiwai. (2021). Decolonizing Methodologies: Research and Indigenous Peoples (3rd edition). Zed Books.