Building Indigenous Curricula across Borders
Laurier-Syracuse Exchange Program:
In Winter 2019, three Indigenous students from Wilfrid Laurier University (Ontario, Canada) and three Indigenous students from Syracuse University (New York, USA) will exchange places and work together to develop Indigenous curriculum content.
“This program will be an exciting and unusual opportunity for Indigenous students to influence and have input into curriculum development,” says Jean Becker, Senior Advisor of Indigenous Initiatives.
Through funding from Santander Bank through the 100,000 Strong in the Americas Innovation Fund, Laurier developed the Indigenous Mobility and Curriculum Across Borders program in partnership with three American universities and two Indigenous partner organizations. Laurier associate professors Kevin Spooner (North American Studies and History) and Lucy Luccisano (Sociology) heard about the grant competition for innovative study abroad partnerships and collaboration from the U.S. Consulate in Toronto. Spooner and Luccisano were immediately interested in doing something to fill the gaps left by typical exchange programs.
“We hadn’t in the past seen many Indigenous students applying to go on exchange,” says Luccisano. “Also, usually students go on their own and it’s a very individual experience. We wanted to do something different.”
To refine their idea, Spooner and Luccisano worked with Becker; Erin Hodson (Indigenous Curriculum Specialist); Lianne Leddy (Assistant Professor of Indigenous Studies) and Phyllis Power (Manager of Global Engagement Programming).
The team developed the vision of a curriculum development project that would see students working with academic and community mentors. Syracuse University became the primary partner, with the University of Buffalo, Cornell University, Woodland Cultural Centre and Skä•noñh - Great Law of Peace Center also coming on board.
The majority of costs to the students will be covered through the one-time Santander grant, as well as other funding and inkind support from the partners and several Laurier departments. The partners are working on ways to make the exchange sustainable for the future.
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