Curriculum transformation: a proposed route to reflect a political consciousness in occupational therapy education

10 Oct 2013

Introduction: Curriculum review is an ongoing, dynamic, long-term process that forms part of occupational therapy education. The Department of Occupational Therapy, University of the Western Cape (UWC) recently responded to the challenge of becoming socially responsive and politically relevant by engaging in curriculum review. The review revealed that political reasoning was not clearly delineated previously in the curriculum. In response to this problem, over a period of several years we engaged in a process of curriculum transformation so that students become politically conscious. Methods: The process entailed environmental scanning, feedback from teaching staff and clinicians, students’ evaluations, regular curriculum revision meetings, academic development meetings, workshops and seminars. A qualitative study using a cooperative enquiry approach was conducted to analyse the data. Findings: From the analysis the following themes emerged: (1) identifying the essence of occupational therapy education at UWC, (2) understanding political practice on a theoretical and then a personal level, (3) integrating and operationalising political consciousness into the curriculum. We discuss the debates and critical questions raised in our efforts to develop a curriculum that prepares graduates to be politically conscious and socially responsive. Finally, we present key strategies for the way forward. Conclusion: Curriculum transformation around a political practice of occupational therapy does not merely mean just a change in curriculum content, but requires the internalisation of a political consciousness by educators individually and collectively.