EXCLUSIVE: University faculty training lists 'perfectionism,' and 'sense of urgency' as indicators of 'white supremacy'

One slide tells instructors to “resist colonial and neoliberal coercion around time and productivity."

Conference participants learned to “decolonize” their classes by eliminating rules around deadlines and to “question the need for mastery.”

Faculty and graduate students at Colorado University – Boulder were recently encouraged to reject “neoliberal” concepts of time, as well as to avoid “cultural norms of white supremacy” like “sense of urgency” and “individualism” in their classrooms.

The university’s Equitable Teaching Conference, hosted by the University’s Center for Teaching and Learning, convened instructors and graduate students for virtual sessions on how to use “equity-minded practices” in the classroom. Attendance at the conference was entirely voluntary; faculty and instructors were not required to participate. 

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Presentation slides obtained by Campus Reform reveal details of a session titled “Anti-racist pedagogy and decolonizing the classroom,” taught by Dr. Becca Ciancanelli. One of the slides lists “perfectionism,” “sense of urgency,” “quantity over quality,” and “individualism” as “Cultural norms of White Supremacy.” 

Another tells instructors they should be “Decolonizing the classroom” by changing the way they approach the concept of time. The slide tells participants to “resist colonial and neoliberal coercion around time and productivity” by using flexible deadlines, allowing students to choose their own deadlines, or not penalizing late work. Attendees were advised to “help students become conscious of the colonial morality around the use of time (worth=productivity).” This idea is credited to Professor Sam Bullington, who teaches in the Community Studies Program within the school of education. 

Ciancarelli’s presentation credits Bullington for several other cited methods of decolonization, including “incorporate[ing] connecting with the earth into assignments and classroom activities, and “help[ing] students recognize their complicity in promoting human exceptionalism/human superiority.” 

Several of the suggestions for decolonizing relate to academic standards. “Critique the (white western masculine) disembodied rationality focus of the educational system,” one item reads. Another says “question the need for mastery, certainty and perfection.” 

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Other sessions at the conference included “Crafting a Social Justice Syllabus” and “Empowering Microaggression Reporting with your Syllabus.” A representative from CU Boulder tells Campus Reform that no presentation slides were used or recordings made of these sessions. 

Professors Ciancanelli and Bullington did not respond to requests for comment.