Diversifying the curriculum: state of diversity in course literature

Silhouette diverse people
Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

To support the efforts to diversify the curriculum, the University Library has conducted a scan of the current state of diversity in course literature.

Based on a sample taken from the Educational Resource Repository (ERR), the Library found that most assigned literature is written by men, and authors from Europe and North America. However, the exact percentages differ per faculty.


To get an indication of diversity of the curriculum, the University Library took a sample from the Educational Resource Repository (ERR). The ERR contains journal articles, book chapters, and other works assigned to students as course literature.

In December 2021 a list with the top 100 most downloaded literature of each faculty (including two institutes and a college) over the 12 previous months was taken from the ERR, leading to 1007 pieces of literature. The analysis was limited to the first 4 authors of each work, leading to a sample of 1727 authors. Several diversity categories were checked for each author: gender, region of birth, region of work, whether a person was perceived as an ethnic minority, and their perceived ethnicity. 


The Library found that 67% of all course literature is written by men (69% if we take out authors whose gender is unknown). In comparison, the 2021 Annual report of Erasmus University states that 46% of our students is male. 

Removing any unknown data, 87% of authors were born in Europe or North America (excluding Mexico). Looking at region of work, the results are less diverse: 94% of authors is located in Europe or North America. 

The majority of authors are not perceived as an ethnic minority in the country where they work: 88% (without unknown data). The perceived ethnicity of 87% of the authors is white or white-passing, 2% is East Asian, 4% is South Asian, 1% is Latine, less than 1% is Native American/Alaskan native, 2% is Middle Eastern, 3% is Black, and 1% mixed/other (after removing 111 authors of which the ethnicity was unknown).

All faculties assign a majority of literature written by authors from the Global North and male authors, but there are differences between the faculties as well. The International Institute of Social Studies has only 53% male authors in its sample, and Rotterdam School of Management has more authors affiliated with American than European institutions.

Please see the report Summary diversity scan course literature at Erasmus University Rotterdam for more results per faculty, information on the methodology, and other background information.


Since Erasmus University is located in The Netherlands, it is to be expected that a majority of its literature comes from European institutions. However, the Library wants to encourage faculties to look at diversity in their literature and how this relates to the diversity of their student body. Also to reflect on the context in which current course literature is presented. Find more ideas and tips in the report.

More information

Please contact Frea Haandrikman

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