Tapestries: Interwoven voices of local and global identities


This capstone project explores the intricate relationship between colonialism, the slave trade, and higher education, focusing on the University of Amsterdam, Harvard University and Georgetown University. It argues that these institutions are deeply intertwined with slavery and colonialism, shaping their foundations and contributing to present-day structural inequalities in higher education. This essay highlights the perpetuation of elitism and exclusion by critiquing the University of Amsterdam for celebrating the Dutch East India Company (VOC) without acknowledging its connection to the slave trade. It also discusses Harvard University's historical ties to slavery and the slave trade, including the institutions use of slave labor and their scientific research that reinforced racial hierarchies. Georgetown University’s connection to the Jesuit religion and their involvement in the sale and use of slaves is explored while also emphasizing the institution's recent efforts for acknowledgment and reparations. This capstone concludes by calling for a more inclusive and critical approach to higher education, recognizing the need for ongoing examination and acknowledgment to address the lasting impact of colonialism on academic institutions and advocating for increased accessibility and racial equity in higher education.

Author Biography

Jada Northover (she/her) is a senior at Macalester College double majoring in American Studies and International Studies with a minor in Spanish. She is from San Francisco, CA and is a member of the Varsity Women’s Basketball team at Macalester College. In the future she is hoping to pursue a career in corporate social responsibility in order to utilize her degree to make systemic changes at the corporate level. Jada is passionate about the responsibility large corporations have to serve their communities and make positive systemic and long lasting changes, specifically regarding racial and socio-economic equity. She studied abroad at the University of Amsterdam in the Spring of her junior year and her academic endeavors abroad is what inspired this capstone project. She thanks everyone who helped her throughout her educational career and those who made this capstone project possible.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License