The following sections outlines the stages of our research process for the project and describe some key outcomes. The project was originally designed as an undergraduate, directed studies course in the First Nations Studies Program at the University of British Columbia, and asked students to share their reflections on their most memorable experiences of problematic classroom discussions of Aboriginal issues. Since that time, the project has continued to expand with the addition of interviews with instructors and administrators who engage with these issues as a part of their regular professional responsibilities. Those who are interested in knowing more about the project’s design and development can find information here. In addition, for those wishing to undertake their own investigations, this process may offer a potential research model. This outline can be used and adapted to structure your own projects as best suits your research parameters, your institutions’ research protocols, and its ethics procedures. If you would like more information about this process, please contact us.
This project and accompanying resource materials are not designed to prescribe solutions to the issues that are raised by students’ observations and insights. We think that it would be misleading to presume that there is a particular response that will work for a specific classroom situation; as students’ interviews indicate, classroom situations and the dynamics informing them are always complex and variable, and can’t be addressed with formulaic responses. The best outcome for this project is a willingness to engage in sustained and substantial discussions about how to address these issues, between instructors and other facilitators, within individual academic and administrative units, and across the university.
This project is not itself meant to represent the University of British Columbia’s response to difficult classroom discussions of Aboriginal issues; it is meant to invite the University of British Columbia to respond by developing ways of addressing the issues that the project identifies. In keeping with this goal, the edited video has been screened at several venues at UBC to generate discussions about what those units could do within their influence and resources to improve the classroom environment and expand instructors’ capacities to teach and discuss Aboriginal content in their classes.