Course objectives

This course will support participants to:

  1. Articulate how disavowals of historical and systemic violence, unsustainability, interdependence, and complexity manifest in their particular field or discipline of study.
  2. Reflect on global justice challenges from different cultural and disciplinary approaches.
  3. Deepen their analyses of historical and systemic forms of violence against the planet and Indigenous, Black, and other marginalized communities.
  4. Identify and interrupt problematic ongoing patterns of North/South, Indigenous/non-Indigenous, and racialized/white engagements that tend to be hegemonic, ethnocentric, depoliticised, ahistorical, and paternalistic.
  5. Develop complex, systemic, multi-layered, and multi-voiced questions and analyses that challenge and provide alternatives to approaches that focus on simplistic solutions.
  6. Hold space for internal complexity, as well as the complexity of others and the world.
  7. Identify strategies to work collaboratively in contexts characterized by VUCA (volatility, unpredictability, complexity and ambiguity).
  8. Deepen their ability to be self-reflective about common violent patterns that may have been previously invisibilized. 
  9. Become more comfortable with uncertainty and discomfort.
  10. Develop a tool-belt with intellectual and embodied practices to hold difficult and painful realities without feeling immobilized or overwhelmed.

 Learning outcomes

After successfully completing this course, students will be better prepared to:

  1. Think deeper about global challenges and better relate to people who come from different backgrounds and belief systems.
  2. Become more aware of how we are part of the problem and the solutions to global issues.
  3. Explore different possibilities for being and relating not grounded on shared meaning, identity or conviction.
  4. Expand their frames of reference, recognising the contributions from different knowledge systems.
  5. Interrupt patterns of entitlement coming from social, economic and/or racial privilege.
  6. Respond in generative ways to teachings (knowledge exchange) that do not resonate with them.
  7. Open up possibilities for thinking, relating and being beyond what is authorised within modern knowledge systems.
  8. Re-ignite their sense of connectedness and responsibility towards each other and the planet.
  9. Open their social and ecological imaginations, to imagine different futures.
  10. Develop stamina and resiliency for the slow and challenging work that needs to be done in the long term.

 Content Overview

Drawing on Indigenous, decolonial and postcolonial studies, this course posits that the unprecedented challenges we face today are not primarily related to a lack of information or problem solving skills, but to a habit of being/existing in the world that is jeopardizing the futurity of our species in a finite planet. When the dimension of being is overlooked, approaches to social and global change tend to promote simplistic understandings of global problems and solutions, superficial analyses of power and history, paternalistic and tokenistic notions of inclusion, and ethnocentric views of justice, diversity, sustainability, and change. The course offers online learning experiences that will open different possibilities for students to interrogate and re-imagine approaches to social and global change, by focusing on the following questions:

  1. What are the contributions, paradoxes, and limits of mainstream problem-posing and problem-solving paradigms of social and global change?
  2. What are the systemic obstacles for ethical engagements at the interface of different and unevenly positioned knowledge systems?
  3. How do we develop approaches to community engagement that better account for the internal diversity and complexity of communities?
  4. How can we build capabilities and stamina for sustaining difficult conversations about the limits of our current system and its past and on-going violences?
  5. What dispositions are necessary to enable us to learn from (inevitable) mistakes and failures of social/global change initiatives?
  6. How can we co-create new paradigms of social change that may open up not-yet-imaginable possibilities for co-existence in the future?

This is not a basic course about colonialism, slavery, capitalist exploitation, racism, sexism, heteropatriarchy or environmental destruction – it is a course that uses “depth pedagogy” to help you navigate the nuances, complexities and paradoxes of identifying and interrupting these events and practices. The course does not aim to teach you what to think, but to expand your capacity to respond with more discernment, sobriety, maturity, and accountability: to “dig deeper and relate wider”.