15 May 2017

SPOTLIGHT ON.... Edinburgh University Students' Association's student-led Project Myopia

This ‘SPOTLIGHT ON’ features Edinburgh University Students’ Association’s award-winning student-led project to improve the diversity of curricula.

In early 2017, two University of Edinburgh students, Rianna Walcott and Toby Sharpe, started working with University of Edinburgh’s Students’ Association (EUSA) to develop ‘Project Myopia’. This is an award-winning initiative designed to amplify the voices of women, LGBTQ people, non-binary people, differently-abled people and people of colour, by improving the diversity of university curricula.

Supported through an Innovation Initiative Grant awarded by the Edinburgh University Development Trust, Project Myopia seeks to connect globally disparate people with shared ethical concerns about education reform.

At the heart of the project is an initiative to crowdsource submissions directly from students who want to challenge the normative and often marginalising content of existing course materials. Each submission highlights a work from which the reviewer feels the curriculum could benefit, its relevance to their personal experience and, most importantly, where it could fit on a university curriculum and why it is worthy of study. Users can search or group essays together by tag/topic, and read with a particular curriculum in mind. In this way, Project Myopia is building a constantly growing and evolving bank of interdisciplinary materials – visual, literary, cinematic and musical – that can be used to support effective petitioning on syllabus change.

A key strength of Project Myopia is that it is entirely student-led. Student involvement has been prioritised at every stage of the design and delivery of the campaign and the project is committed to providing a platform and job opportunities for marginalised students.

Currently, the project has published essays from students over four continents, on wide-ranging topics from Filipino-American identity in television to First Nations visual art. The project managers have also held meetings with staff and students to highlight the vital role of the student voice in pedagogy and the potential for digital technology projects like Project Myopia to have a positive influence on the direction of educational reform. Looking to the future, Project Myopia has plans to collaborate within Edinburgh University and across other universities with like-minded initiatives, in order to reach as broad as possible an audience of students with similar experiences and concerns.

At the sparqs Student Engagement Awards in March 2017, Project Myopia was awarded runner-up in the category “A student-led initiative across the college or university which demonstrates a clear commitment to equality and diversity and has had an impact across the organisation”.  View the category webpage to see them collecting their award!

For further information about Project Myopia, please contact the project managers, Rianna Walcott and Toby Sharpe, at projectmyopia@gmail.com, and also take a look at the website at www.projectmyopia.com, which also has links to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages.

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