Dismantling Structural Racism and Eurocentrism in Higher Education Institutions
An im/possible roundtable


Brief description

The session is part of the module ‘diagnosis’ in our course programme dealing with institutional racism in Higher Education. It consists of a digital roundtable discussion with guests from different European or Pan-European contexts plus an internal follow-up among the participants at a later stage to ensure the transfer of the conclusions and lessons learned to the next sessions.

The overall topic of this roundtable is to put to the fore how structural racism and Eurocentrism manifests in HEI. With a particular focus on the local context, the participants will discuss strategies to diagnose and overcome structural racism and eurocentrism in academia. Within this context, the limits and potentials of a dialogue between HEI, civil society organizations and/or activism will be discussed. Thus, the roundtable brings into dialogue European academia with local activists/representatives from civil society organizations who work in the fields of antiracist, decolonial and migrant activism and/or apply intersectional approaches.

The roundtable’s focus will have two aims: First, it will discuss the challenges and difficulties in diagnosing structural racism and Eurocentrism in HEI and look at obstacles and potentials for social, economic, racial and intersectional justice in academia. Second, it aims at strengthening the dialogue between independent researchers, academics, practitioners, artists and members of civil society organizations. The following questions will guide the roundtable discussion:

  1. What are the dimensions and dynamics of structural racism and Eurocentrism in Higher Education Institutions?
  2. Is institutional racism in HEI addressed and if, how? Do you know projects or initiatives combating or addressing institutional racism in HEI?
  3. What are the implications for decolonizing HEI in Europe?

For further orientation, panelists might also consider these other questions:

  1. What are the dimensions and dynamics of structural racism and Eurocentrism in your institution? Have they changed over time, and if so, how?
  2. Are there diversity and anti-discrimination policies in place in your institutions? How do they address and challenge institutional racism? How would you evaluate the outreach and impact of these policies in preventing racism in institutions?
  3. What other strategies exist in your countries and institutions to combat racism? Are your institutions participating in this struggle and how? Do you know initiatives of decolonizing knowledge in your country and in your institution? What are they addressing, how do they work and how do they interact with the institution and the public?
  4. Does the decolonization of knowledge and education need the university?

The roundtable should be supported by online live note taking (e.g. on the Miro board) to include the audience and further support a general impression of racism and eurocentrism in HEI in Europe. It will also support the follow-up among the course participants at a later stage, which should be included at the beginning of the schedule of the next day.

After the roundtable, preferably the next day, a follow up should be offered. This is important to ensure that participants have the opportunity to reflect together on what was said the previous day and compare or link it to their own contexts at HEI. The following questions might inspire the follow up process in two or three break out rooms, to enable that all participants can share their thoughts:

  1. How is structural racism and eurocentrism reflected in universities? What are the panelists experience?
  2. Are you aware of any diversity & Anti-discrimination policies of your university or of a university you are familiar of? Does this reflect on the diversity of staff and students?
  3. Are there anti-racist student or decolonizing the univirsity groups at your HEI? Can you tell a success story? Do you think student anti-racist or decolonial activism can impact the career of students (negatively)? Why (not)?
  4. Do you think including decolonizing knowledge into the academy can a have a lasting positive impact on education? Why (not)?


The roundtable discussion aims to provide an overview of the challenges that scholars and activists face on different levels, when confronting structural racism and epistemic eurocentrism in European HEI. Participants are provided with an overview of the different realities in the countries participating in the BRIDGES project. The roundtable aims at offering a platform for a common analysis and understanding of the historical and social contingencies as well as the political conjunctures constituting and crossing biographies and communities in struggle. Finally, it hopes at contributing to an exchange of lessons learned and successs stories to further contribute to strengthen anti-racist, feminist and decolonizing networks in Europe both within academia and civil society. The follow-up the next day ensures that the conclusions drawn and lessons learned during the roundtable are transferred to the next sessions.

Procedure (steps, instructions and timing)

Up to four panelists from HEI and civil society organisations from different European or Pan-European contexts should be invited in advance. BRIDGES offers a great network of practitioners, activists and academic personnel who work in the fields of antiracist, decolonial and migrant activism and/or apply intersectional approaches. Alternatively, participants can watch the already recorded roundtable from the BRIDGET pilot course and then proceed with the follow-up session. For the follow up, the guiding questions will be taken up by the moderator and participants are invited to answer in breakout rooms.

The roundtable of 90 minutes is divided into the following blocks:

  • Welcome and introduction of participants (10 minutes)
  • Block I: Contributions of each participants along the guiding questions (40 minutes)
  • Block II: Questions by participants and moderator (10 minutes)
  • Block III: Contributions of each panelist to questions (20 minutes)
  • Block IV: Concluding remarks and Closure by moderator (10 minutes)

The follow-up session is organized the following way:

  • Welcome and recap of participating panelists (5 minutes): The guiding questions will be taken up by the moderator and participants are invited to answer in breakout rooms.
  • Discussion in Breakout rooms including documentation of conclusions, reflections and lessons learned on an online collaboration platform (e.g. MIRO, Padlet, etc.; 25 minutes).

Necessary materials and resources for execution

Required reading (concepts/tools)​

Additional reading

Technical tools

  • The roundtable will be delivered through an online meeting conference platform (Zoom, BigBlueButton, etc.). The participants should be encouraged beforehand to take notes during the discussions for the follow-up.
  • Each of the guests should have a device that has a good camera and microphone. In case the event shall be recorded, and the recording function of the platform is disabled, there should be a backup recording option.
  • Translation: If there will be persons without English skills, translators should be present to translate to the different languages.
  • Miro as digital mind map tool.

Expected results

Lessons learned from each other will be identified, as well as new forms of cooperation between academia and activism to decolonize higher education and its institutions.

Derived materials from the activity (to be uploaded on this website)

The roundtable discussion can be recorded. That way it can be uploaded to the virtual lab and other digital platforms. Also, if translation was offered, this can become a base for writing a roundtable report, which can be uploaded to the virtual lab and/or published in an international journal.


  • Panelists (max. 4)
  • Chair
  • Translators (if panelists/participants speak different languages)
  • Technical assistant, if possible: responsible for making sure all the microphones are muted, and hackers/intruders are expelled