Society launches principles for inclusive pharmacology education

Today, the Society has set out how pharmacology educators can drive inclusive implementation of the undergraduate pharmacology curriculum, capturing decolonisation, democratisation, diversification and accessibility.

The principles have been endorsed by IUPHAR and are part of a wider update to the Society’s 2016 curriculum to ensure that pharmacology education continues to meet the needs of students and can respond to an evolving discipline. They are part of delivering the Society’s vision for inclusive pharmacology, through which the Society commits to placing equity, diversity and inclusion at the heart of pharmacology, whether in terms of the opportunity for a successful career, or in benefitting from pharmacology research.

The principles were developed in collaboration with an Inclusive Pharmacology Education Steering group and through the main curriculum review process which involved discussion with an international network of pharmacology educators. Today’s issue of Pharmacology Matters sets out this process in full. 

Dr Anna Zecharia, the Society’s Director of Policy & Public Affairs who chaired the Inclusive Steering Group, said:

“Through the development process we identified biases and assumptions hidden in the pharmacology curriculum – for example, it primarily uses a Western lens, making assumptions about norms and development of the discipline. These biases need to be explicitly acknowledged and addressed, otherwise they will continue to be perpetuated through teaching, and ultimately research and healthcare. 

"Getting this right through education is one way to help close research and health gaps. It can also set the tone for the discussions and reflection that need to happen (and which will at times be difficult) within our community if the discipline is to integrate its history, and chart a course for the future that takes everyone into account. 

"Inclusive pharmacology is an evolving area – and the principles will evolve too. Our aim is to set out the motivation and scale of our ambition, to give practical guidance and to set a framework for the next phase of this work. The intention is that the principles are helpful right now - and that they continue to develop in partnership with the global pharmacology community.”

Professor Steve Tucker, the Society’s VP Academic Development, lead on the curriculum review process and member of the Inclusive Steering Group, said:

“Feedback from the Society’s work with educators and students show that they want to engage with the societal impact and implications of the discipline – and there’s lots of great work and expertise within our community already. 

"The inclusive principles are part of a bigger piece of work in building the pharmacology education community to share learning and to co-develop practical, modern approaches to teaching. The new curriculum retains the high-level statements of the original, but gives more granularity and advice on implementation and assessment of learning as well as suggesting resources to facilitate delivery. This supportive educational package is inclusive by design and will be available for educators to consult and use in developing the student experience for pharmacology students across the world. Our ambition is to continue to fund and develop resources in partnership with educators so we can continue to build on where we are today. 

"This is already underway and I’m excited to work with our Educator Network to support implementation of the curriculum holistically – with a priority focus on inclusivity. IUPHAR’s endorsement is a great opportunity to broaden this discussion and impact globally.”

Professor Ingolf Cascorbi, IUPHAR President, said:

“IUPHAR is pleased to endorse these inclusive principles for pharmacology education, which have been carefully and thoughtfully developed. The principles will provide a clear blueprint for educators - and facilitate an international, collaborative approach to their implementation.”  

The Society would like to thank members of the Inclusive Pharmacology Steering group and educators who took part in the curriculum development workshop sessions. 

If you would like to be involved in this work as it progresses, please contact   

Read the Pharmacology Matters article that discusses development of the curriculum and inclusive principles >
Read the new inclusive principles >
Read the updated curriculum >

Published: 25 Aug 2022 in Society news