Learning to walk the walk: Incorporating praxis for decolonization in global health education

Shela Sridhar, Faraz Alizadeh, Leah Ratner, Christiana M. Russ, Stephanie W. Sun, Mike A. Sundberg, Sam L. Rosman

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debatepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Colonial history has deeply influenced the structures that govern global health. Though many curricula promote equity, few focus on developing competency in understanding and dismantling colonialism, and the structural barriers to global health equity. To dismantle colonial structures and create equitable collaborations, learners must be able to recognise how colonialism permeates global health practice. We propose a praxis cycle in education that asks learners to actively engage with these concepts. The praxis cycle includes: Theory: Learners explore the principles of decoloniality to understand how attitudes and practices are shaped by biased social structures influenced by colonialism. Reflection: Learners reflect on their work in LMIC settings through a lens of decoloniality and positionality. Action: Learners work in LMIC settings where they apply and actively engage with these concepts and insights. During implementation of this curriculum, we encountered several challenges including the cognitive dissonance of the learner to changing mental models of global health practice, existing systemic barriers to changing one’s practice and the development of accountability mechanisms for learners in this type of curriculum. Intentionally incorporating a praxis cycle helps learners recognise their role in disrupting the structural forces that promote inequities, and actively dismantle the forces upholding systemic oppression.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2193834
JournalGlobal Public Health
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2023
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Thank you to Michelle Niescierenko, the Director of the Global Health Program and Boston Children’s Hospital and her support of this curriculum, to all of our colleagues who provided feedback on the earliest iterations of our curriculum objectives and to our local colleagues who engage with and support our learners.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • curriculum development
  • Decoloniality
  • global health education
  • praxis
  • structural competency

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article


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