Session #6: Curriculum Renewal: Decolonization and Diverse Cultural Perspectives
Curriculum Renewal: Decolonization and Diverse Cultural Perspectives
March 22, 2022
Katherine Larson, Vice Dean, Teaching, Learning & Undergraduate Programs, UTSC
Angela Mashford-Pringle, Associate Director, Waakebiness-Bryce Institute for Indigenous Health
Highlights from the panel discussion
UTSC Strategic Plan, Inspiring Inclusive Excellence (2020-25)
Strategic Direction 1.2
Undertake a comprehensive curriculum renewal that builds upon top-tier teaching, prepares students for the world of work and the disruptions of the future, and supports innovations in inclusive teaching and learning.
Key Areas of Priority
Goal: to ensure that UTSC’s commitment to inclusion, Indigeneity, and anti-racism is reflected across programs and embedded in our pedagogical approaches and supports.
Emphasis on process as crucial to systemic change
Co-leadership, relationality, mutual respect.
Recognition that this is messy, hard, emotional, and uncomfortable work that will be ongoing.
Recognition that departments and individuals are at different stages with this work.
Recognition of institutional complicity in ongoing systemic racism and UTSC’s location on land that was unjustly taken.
Leveraging of learnings from the pandemic and its exposure of inequities.
Areas of recommended action
1 – Curriculum Development
2 – Pedagogical Development and Related Supports
3 – Dedicated Academic Homes, Programs, and Spaces for Black and Indigenous Excellence
4 – Faculty, Librarian, and Staff Hiring
5 – Community Engagement
6 – Institutional Structures and Supports
7 – Future of the Working Circle and Foundations for Implementation
Pedagogies of Inclusive Excellence (PIE)
The Pedagogies of Inclusive Excellence (PIE) is a new fund dedicated to inclusive, accessible, holistic, and anti-racist curriculum and pedagogical development. PIE will support the implementation of the recommendations and action areas from the curriculum review in areas including:
– program and new course development and related departmental initiatives;
– rethinking existing courses and programs;
– expanding training and education opportunities for faculty and staff;
– recognizing the labour entailed in this work;
– prioritizing student well-being as a key lens for teaching and learning;
– funding projects focused on inclusive teaching and learning;
– and providing dedicated staffing supports.
Examples of Pedagogical Strategies Across Disciplines
Students participate in a week-long Indigenous health course at Hart House farm.
The campus at U of T has a colonial feel, so students leave campus to learn from the land.
The road to Hart House farm is long and winding with twists and turns. The trip to the farm provides the opportunity to talk about the twists and turns in learning.
Land based learning
Land based learning uses the land to teach you.
Students are not just saying the Land Acknowledgement at the farm, they are thinking about how people are living on the land.
A teepee becomes the classroom and students engage in activities such as making baskets and cedar tea. They also go on medicine walks where they learn about the natural surroundings.
Learning is about how items are used and how these items relate to family and life (sustainability, capitalism, socialism).
The activities in the course enable students to connect to each other in very different ways than the types of connection that happen in formal classroom settings.
Students and teachers learn from each other and learning happens through conversations.
The students formed a Community of Practice and stayed connected long after the end of the course.
Learning and ways of knowing cannot be “tested”. This is where boundaries need to be broken and minds need to open. Thinking about:
– Novel ways of growing and developing (alternative ways to tenure).
– Different ways of structuring courses, teaching, and assessing learning (course length, flexibility with due dates, types of assessment, accessible and outdoor classrooms).
– Admitting students who have previously been excluded (students from underrepresented groups).
How do you deal with resistance to changing the ways things have been done historically?
- Engage Indigenous and non-Indigenous faculty champions
- Invite people into classes to see how proposed changes work.
- Take baby steps – look at what can be changed in graduate steps. Ask questions “Why are we doing this; is there another way of doing this?”.
- Start conversations – hard conversations are an opportunity for change to take place.
- Create spaces for conversations where the institutional commitment is clear and invite institutional leaders to facilitate conversations.
How to you create meaningful experiences for students in larger courses and in an institution that is so large?
- Ask students to go outside for class.
- Ask questions that invite conversations.
- Encourage people to move: hugging circle, scavenger hunt.
- Teach students to think about thing and see things differently.
- Use Teaching Assistants to help build community. Open opportunities to move away from lectures to discussions between students, TA’s and faculty.
- Re-evaluate the disciplinary framework – what is taught and how.
How do we incorporate what we learned during the pandemic that served different students in a way they have never experienced – such as the benefits of online courses for students with disabilities?
- This proactively about creating community – for students who have historically not had a sense of community, including students in a way that feels supportive. This can be done through engaging students across academic years (mentoring).
- Think about where students encounter knowledge and how they move through their courses/programs (course curriculum maps, interdisciplinary cohorts).