The second year of the “What I Learned in Class Today: Educational Experiences and Institutional Responses to Indigenous Engagement in Curriculum, Pedagogy, and Classroom Climate at UBC” Reboot continues to explore the challenging questions about Indigenous engagement on UBC’s campus that were the impetus for the original student project in 2007.
Despite the shift in the general public’s knowledge of Indigenous histories and contemporary realities that were outlined in the first-year project summary, communicating with students, faculty, and staff has revealed that the initial motivating factors remain just as critical today. The shared experiences of problematic and traumatic encounters in classroom environments emphasize the importance of holding space to support Indigenous students’ wellbeing on campus. By collaborating with members of the UBC community, the What I Learned in Class Today team hopes to create a platform that encourages dialogue between instructors and other facilitators to respond to these questions.
Sparking these conversations was the central focus of the first year of this project. After receiving ethics approval, the WILICT team conducted one-on-one interviews and focus groups with a diverse range of relevant participants. Alumnus, staff and administrators, faculty, grad students and TA’s from UBC-V campus lent incredible insight to the nature of Indigenous topics in curriculum, classrooms, and the workplace. Some overlapping themes between the participants’ experiences, and between the 2007 and 2018 responses, include knowledge gaps about Indigenous topics, deficiencies in curriculum and instructors’ ability to facilitate these discussions, and a consequential burden placed on Indigenous students to address these issues. A central aspect of the reboot is to compare and analyze the perspectives from the educational resource, What I Learned in Class Today: Aboriginal Issues in the Classroom, with these more recent comments.
This year, we hope to bolster the voices of undergraduate students, those that were foundational to the original project and are necessary to any conversations of reform moving forward. By hosting a dialogue circle with students at Aboriginal Student Affairs (ASA) and a lunch with the UBC Collegia, we have introduced the project to a broader audience, particularly Indigenous undergrads. Throughout the course of this Fall Term we will continue recruiting, interviewing, and performing focus groups with undergraduate participants. This term will also include the proliferation of summary reports to the project’s stakeholders. If you are interested in participating in or collaborating with the What I Learned in Class Today project reboot, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more. The project goal is to compile participant interviews into a final video by the end of the 2019-2020 academic year to be used as an educational resource to support Indigenous-focused teaching and learning areas on campus. Despite declaring a projected end-date, it is our hope that this will be a living project, one that continues to adapt and grow as topics are raised.
A few words from Keirra:
Hi everyone! My name is Keirra Webb; I am a white settler who lives on the unceded lands of Musqueam, Tsleil-Waututh, and the Squamish Nation in what is currently known as North Vancouver. I am a fourth-year student majoring in English (Honours) and minoring in First Nations & Indigenous Studies. I’ve recently returned from the United Kingdom where I studied at the University of Edinburgh and then participated in a Global Seminar, In Search of Indigenous London, with an incredible group of peers. This Fall, I am excited to dive back into life at UBC, and to continue fostering connections with UBC and the extended community. I look forward to working closely with Amy and Erin, my fellow undergraduate students, and the broader community to create an environment that supports the wellbeing and academic success of Indigenous students across campus.
Outside of campus, I am an avid-reader—my friends and I have recently started a book club—and an outdoor enthusiast who is cognisant of the profound privilege I have to enjoy seasonal adventures like hiking, skiing, and swimming in lakes. I am so grateful for the connections I have made during my undergrad and look forward to establishing more over the next eight months. Thank you to Amy and Erin for inviting me to join the Indigenous Initiatives team; I can’t wait to continue learning and working towards our common goal.