Ways of Knowing, Being, Doing and Becoming: Engaging Indigenous Knowledges in Higher Education

2020-06-20T00:12:11Z (GMT) by Ocean Mercier Beth Leonard
For 11 years, virtual coursework between Alaska and Aotearoa has provided a shared space for students to explore some of the most pressing social and environmental challenges at the cultural interface of Indigenous Knowledges. In this session we discuss an annual virtual exchange that engages Māori, Alaskan, Native and non-Indigenous students, including undergraduate and graduate students from different universities, nations, hemispheres and continents. The course is co-taught by two Indigenous scholars - Ocean Mercier, of Māori descent, and Beth Leonard, of Dene’/Athabascan descent, and draws students and their interests into conversation, using online forums, synchronous videoconferencing, and small group discussions. As Indigenous faculty we are engaged interested in a transformative, critical ‘shaping of spaces’ that serves students from marginalized groups. In addition, our ongoing research examines the influence of Indigenous studies in culture-, value- and land-based education as related to the strengthening of identity and belonging for Indigenous students in higher education. University/tertiary classrooms can be reconstructed to connect disparate disciplines, geographically separated people, and different ways of knowing. Our tertiary teaching spaces can properly acknowledge Indigenous histories (as bound to discreet places/spaces), be experimental, a nursery of ideas, and pedagogically revolutionary. Importantly, relationships are at the center of our engagement between Alaska and Aotearoa. We set the stage for a mutually-beneficial interaction. We provide space for different ways of knowing, and producing knowledge to be affirmed and expressed in a multitude of ways. In this way the space becomes a respectful one that honors multiple traditions.