Date: Friday, September 28, 2018
Venue: Scarfe Room 1130
Time: 12:30 – 2:00 p.m.
Title: Why “Indigenizing” Curriculum and ‘Pedagogy’ is Vital for Our Survival:
An Interactive Engagement with Four Arrows
Speaker: Four Arrows (Wahinkpe Topa), aka Don Trent Jacobs
Professor, Fielding Graduate University, USA
Light refreshments and informal conversation at noon. The Lecture commences at 12:30 pm.
There is no need to RSVP. Everyone is welcome!
This presentation will clarify the various meanings, goals, concerns and potential outcomes relating to school-wide efforts to “teach” the relevance of Indigenous worldview, knowledge and perspectives. This includes giving support to sovereignty while exposing settler hegemony. Ideas on foundational ways to transform learning accordingly are also introduced.
Four Arrows (Wahinkpe Topa), aka Don Trent Jacobs, Ed.D., formerly Dean of Education at Oglala Lakota College, is currently a professor in the School of Leadership Studies at Fielding Graduate University. Selected by AERO as one of 27 visionaries in education, he is the author of 21 books including Point of Departure: Returning to Our Authentic Worldview for Education and Survival (IAP, 2016); Teaching Truly: A Curriculum to Indigenize Mainstream Education (Peter Lang, 2014); and The Authentic Dissertation (Routledge, 2008). Four Arrow is also the subject of a book about his life and activism entitled, Fearless Engagement by R. Michael Fisher (Peter Lang, 2018).
Vancouver faces stark contrasts between funding for K to 12 and university
October 7, 2016
Vancouver, the city of disparities, is faced with polar opposites in its educational system.
The contrast between K-12 schools and the university in Vancouver could not be more stark: The schools sinking in debt with rapidly declining enrolments and empty seats versus the university swimming in cash and bloating quotas to force excessive enrolments beyond capacity.
With central offices just 7km or 12 minutes apart, the two operate as if in different hemispheres or eras: the schools laying off teachers and planning to close buildings versus the university given a quota for preparing about 650 teachers for a glutted market with few to no jobs on the remote horizon in the largest city of the province.
There is a gateway from grade 12 in high school to grade 13 in the university but from a finance perspective there appears an unbreachable wall between village and castle.
Pundits and researchers are nonetheless mistaken in believing that the Vancouver schools’ current $22m shortfall is disconnected from the university’s $36m real estate windfall this past year.
The schools are begging for funds from the Liberals, who, after saying no to K-12, turn around to say yes to grades 13-24 and pour money into the University of British Columbia, no questions asked.
There may be two ministries in government, Education and Advanced Education; there is but one tax-funded bank account.
At first glance, the cheques suggest parity across the Vancouver system. For 2016-17, the schools, with about 49,000 students get a base operating grant of $436m and the university, with about 42,000 students gets a base of $420m. So what’s the problem?
One is left to birth and migration rates while the other is manipulated with enrolment quotas. For each decrease of enrolment in the Vancouver schools the University ironically matches with an increase of teachers for the job market.
UBC’s Faculty of Education, which could be financially assisting the schools to meet this historic shortfall, is instead bloated with a $2.6m deficit partially to maintain a quota for a steady flood of new teachers into Vancouver.
With the building boom at UBC, in March the Faculty of Education occupied a floor and a half of the new Ponderosa Commons building, despite about two floors of unoccupied or underutilized space in its Scarfe building. Education’s share of the $57m building is $18m.
At the same time 21 Vancouver schools were scheduled for closure or demolition to meet a shortfall the government gave a $19.5m windfall to renovate UBC’s Life Sciences building.
Wheeling and dealing, the Liberal government is robbing Peter to pay Paul, demoralizing Petra to pump up Paulette.
UBC appears to be throwing money around like it grows on Endowment Land trees. With the Vancouver real estate boom, it does.
The short history of UBC at 100 years is that it was born spoiled with a sizeable estate in 1915-1916 and remains spoiled in 2016-2017.
Through the stroke of a pen in 1858, Queen Victoria created the colony of British Columbia and transformed First Nations traditional territory into Crown Land. In 1907, an amendment to the BC Land Act granted 3,000 acres (5 sq. miles) to a University Endowment.
UBC property sits precariously on unceded Musqueam territory aggressively developed by settlers into prime Vancouver real estate over the past century and most aggressively since 1988 when the UBC Real Estate Corporation (Properties Trust) was established. In 1994 UBC converted 200 acres of its campus and Endowment Lands into condo and shopping centre development.
By 2003, as University Hill Secondary school was crammed and the urban plan expanded, so flush with cash was the university that its Properties Trust offered to bankroll renovations to its National Research Council (NRC) building and charge the busted VSB a monthly lease. In 2008, the Liberals stepped in, effectively saving the university from a $37.9m renovation.
The Vancouver Schools have had to defer $700m of building maintenance costs while UBC has announced plans for an $822 million building boom on it campus, with generous commitments from the Ministry.
As in real estate goes demographics: from boom to bust, the empty seats in Vancouver schools will inevitably be empty seats in the university. Like the VSB, it won’t be long before UBC begins to schedule the closure or demolition of empty academic buildings, that is, if someone opens the doors to realize there’s no one inside.
With more and more faculty members preferring to work at home, save for staff, empty offices are making hollow buildings the norm.
The Ministry is now threatening to fire the School Board for suspending school closure and demolition plans but when the University Board colludes to hide decisions from access and scrutiny the Ministry looks the other way.
Vancouver is now desperate to resolve the deepest school finance crisis and worst university administrative legitimacy crisis in 100 years. False distinctions between the two or the success of one at the expense of the other are at the root of the crises.
It’s the story of Vancouver: Broke and barely making it versus fixed, rich, and laughing all the way to the bank: 99% versus 1%.
Stephen Petrina and E. Wayne Ross are professors in the Department of Curriculum and Pedagogy at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver.
UBC Department of Curriculum and Pedagogy
2016-2017 Seminar Series
(Un)Learning Anthropocentrism: An Ecocritical Framework for Teaching to Resist Human-Supremacy in Curriculum and Pedagogy
John Lupinacci, PhD
Cultural Studies & Social Thought in Education
College of Education
Washington State University
October 28, 20106
In this talk, I will call attention to—and critically question—the epoch now referred to as the Anthropocene in relationship to Western industrial assumptions rooted in the understanding of human-beings as separate from and superior to all other life-forms and the environments upon which they depend. Drawing from an ecocritical framework in education, I emphasize that because anthropocentrism is cultural rather than inherently natural, it is amenable to social change. As a scholar-activist educator, I take the position that (un)learning anthropocentrism as radical change is imperative in light of environmental degradation, climate change, and the multitude of social and ecological problems that follow as a consequence. The stakes are high and the capacity of the planet for sustaining life depends upon future generations learning to live in harmony and at peace with the diverse ecosystems within which they reside. More than a critique of anthropocentrism, I work to challenge this worldview and seek ways of engaging educators and educational researchers in doing the same. Drawing from ecocritical projects in education—including critical animal studies, anarchism, and ecofeminism—while recognizing centuries of wisdom in indigenous epistemologies, this talk shares a pedagogical process aimed at helping educators to recognize an anthropocentric worldview, to examine how this worldview is implicated in maintaining human (and male, white, able-bodied) supremacy, and to rethink anthropocentrism in favor of ecological alternatives that are socially just and encompass all living systems.
John Lupinacci is an Assistant Professor at Washington State University. He conducts research and teaches in the Cultural Studies and Social Thought in Education (CSSTE) program using an approach that advocates for the development of scholar-activist educators. His ecocritical work in education is interdisciplinary and draws from critical social theory through anarchist philosophy, critical animal studies, new materialism, and queer-ecofeminist philosophy while recognizing that many of these Western frameworks are entangled with colonial cultures and thus ought not take precedence over—or appropriate—diverse indigenous knowledges. Drawing heavily from critical conceptions of environmental education, Dr. Lupinacci’s research focuses on how people—specifically educators, educational leaders, and educational researchers—learn to both identify and examine destructive habits of Western industrial human culture and how those habits are taught and learned in schools. His experiences as a high school teacher, an outdoor environmental educator, and a community activist-artist-scholar all contribute to his research, teaching, and development of interdisciplinary research projects open to the (im)possibilities of unexpected spaces with(in) education and educational research.
Comments on Academic Freedom at the University of British Columbia
Delivered at “Breakfast with the Dean” panel April 21, 2016
E. Wayne Ross, PhD
Faculty of Education
University of British Columbia
First of all I would like to thank Dean Blye Frank for inviting me to participate on this panel and thanks to all of you for coming out this morning to participate in a discussion on academic freedom.
On the surface, it’s easy to be pro-academic freedom, kind of like being for mom and apple pie. But, academic freedom is a contested issue in universities (and schools, but that is a very different matter).
The Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT), describes a number of major academic freedom cases in Canada ranging from the University of Manitoba blocking a documentary film that reports findings of research on genetically modified crops; to irregularities that lead to the suspension of David F. Noble’s appointment to an endowed chair at Simon Fraser University; to Mary Bryson, the Faculty’s senior associate dean, and her battle with UBC over intellectual property rights. The arbitration decision in the Bryson case is described by CAUT as “landmark in the struggle to insure that faculty, not administrators, determine the content of courses.”
In recent years there has been international attention given to the academic freedom cases of Professors Norman G. Finkelstein and Steven Salaita, who lost jobs as a result of social justice scholarship and activism, in particular, criticisms of Israel’s policies toward Palestinians living under occupation.
Threats to academic freedom are real and have a long history in Canadian postsecondary education and beyond.
CAUT defines academic freedom, in part, as including:
the right, without restriction by prescribed doctrine, to freedom to teach and discuss; freedom to carry out research and disseminate and publish the results thereof; freedom to produce and perform creative works; … freedom to express one’s opinion about the institution, its administration, and the system in which one works; … Academic freedom always entails freedom from institutional censorship.
Academic freedom does not require neutrality on the part of the individual. Academic freedom makes intellectual discourse, critique, and commitment possible.
Academic staff must not be hindered or impeded in exercising their civil rights as individuals including the right to contribute to social change through free expression of opinion on matters of public interest. Academic staff must not suffer any institutional penalties because of the exercise of such rights. 
In short academic freedom is essential to the mission of the university.
Dean Frank asked the members of this` panel to focus on issues of academic freedom in light of the current search to fill the new UBC position of Senior Advisor to the Provosts on Academic Freedom.
My first thought was that if we have provosts who need advisors on academic freedom, maybe they shouldn’t be provosts, really. But, perhaps I’m being too glib, even for a short breakfast talk.
Of course the creation of this new advisory position is the result of controversy created by the former chair of the UBC Board of Governors, John Montalbano, when he interfered with the academic freedom of Sauder School Professor Jennifer Berdahl, after she blogged about UBC President Arvind Gupta’s “resignation” after 13 months in office.
Oh, wait a minute. Let me correct myself, like many of UBC’s self-investigation exercises the external report on the Berdahl case, written by former justice Lynn Smith, did not find fault with any individual university administrators.
“No individual intended to interfere with Dr. Berdahl’s academic freedom, or made a direct attempt to do so… However, sometimes several relatively small mistakes can lead to a failure of the larger system.”
Despite whatever good intentions might lurk behind the creation of the new academic freedom advisor position – and I do believe that its existence is primarily a public relations effort – at best this position is a band-aid on a life-threatening wound and at worse it is yet another diversion – a manifestation of an ideological stance that is widely held in society and practically hegemonic in universities—liberal neutrality. I’ll briefly address both of these circumstances.
Corporatization of the University (The life-threatening wound)
The corporate takeover of education at the K-12 and postsecondary levels, facilitated is by governments that might best be described as executive committees of the rich.
The trouble begins when the framework for understanding the nature and aims of education and scholarship is as a tool vital for economic success. As Thomas Docherty argues in his book Universities at War, the university has become a servant of the national and provincial economies in the context of globalization. Its driving principles of private and personal enrichment are understood as necessary conditions of progress and modernity.
Docherty sees this circumstances as a radical impoverishment of the university’s capacities to extend human possibilities and freedoms, to seek earnestly for social justice, and to participate in the endless need for the extension of democracy. Docherty argues that we must take sides in this matter because market fundamentalists are on the march and the war is being fought not just for scholars but also for a more democratic, more just, more emancipatory way of life.
The Problem of “Liberal neutrality”
In her article “Why I’m Not a Liberal,” Robin Marie Averback argues that
“In the liberal imagination, education and accommodation are self-evident solutions, since the problem can neither be understood as a matter of brute power struggles nor as a product of structural inequality fundamental to the functioning of entire institutions … You can’t choose a side when liberalism insists there are no sides at all.”
This notion, helps to explain how the Smith Report on the Berdahl academic freedom case creates a victim without a victimizer. This is a pattern played out in numerous instances at UBC in recently. See, for example, the reports on:
- the privacy breach related to documents on the Arvind Gupta imbroglio
- Commerce Undergraduate Society Frosh Week “rape chants”
- UBC handling of sexual assault complaints
Averback reminds us of the picture book version of social justice that we often see on walls of community centres,
“In this picture book version of social justice struggle, no one ever opposes freedom’s forward march. All the oppressed need to do is rise up and assert themselves; the world they are fighting for is realized simply by the act of self-declaration.”
At UBC everybody seems to be for academic freedom. It’s like a picture book version of academic freedom. But in the all-administrative university – a phrase coined by Benjamin Ginsberg in his book The Fall of the Faculty – the response of the administration to an academic freedom crisis is the creation of yet another administrative position, aimed at educating and accommodating.
This reminds me of a comment someone made in the context of the recent UBC Board of Governors debacle(s) and the compromised Presidential Search Committee, “UBC doesn’t need a new driver, because the problem is with the car.”
Here are some academic freedom issues that the new position will like never come close to addressing:
- Intellectual property rights;
- Corporate influence on campus academic programs and research.
- Faculty loss of control over academic programs (such as the teacher education program in our faculty)
- Respectful workplace statements that become instruments that encourage bullying and mobbing of faculty with dissenting points of view or who merely ask questions that make people uncomfortable;
- Middle managers, like those in Sauder, who intervene like their corporate counterparts to threaten the rank and file on issues of solidarity and criticism of management (e.g., the recent UBCFA no confidence vote);
- People like those faculty members who have warned UBC Professor Jonathan Ichikawa (sponsor of the UBCFA no-confidence vote in the Board of Governors) that his activism would negatively affect his advancement at the university;
- Students/faculty self-funding themselves;
- Administrative efforts to “right-size” academic programs;
- Tenure and promotion committees that forego evaluative reading of faculty scholarship and instead focus on impact factors or the amount of external dollars won in competitions.
When no one is understood as protecting a position of power (liberal neutrality) how do we combat these threats to academic freedom? I don’t think the answer is by appointing an advisor to the provost.
Questions for discussion:
To what degree are the new policies for academic speech inscribed in academic work, regardless of where it’s done? As the academic workplace is increasingly displaced and distributed, are academic policies displaced and distributed as well? Observed at work, monitored at home and tracked in between—these are not so much choices as the cold reality of 21st century academic work.
BC Premier Christy Clark has warned provincial postsecondary institutions that they must do a better job of producing graduates who meet the needs of the private sector (2014 Throne Speech). What happens to academic freedom when universities are cast as servants to the provincial or national “economic success?”
 CAUT, Major Academic Freedom Cases: http://www.caut.ca/issues-and-campaigns/academic-freedom/academic-freedom-cases
 See full CAUT statement on academic freedom here: https://www.caut.ca/about-us/caut-policy/lists/caut-policy-statements/policy-statement-on-academic-freedom – sthash.0grFSra5.dpuf
 See government appointments to UBC Board and U of Calgary/Enbridge relationship: http://www.cbc.ca/beta/news/canada/calgary/caut-ucalgary-uofc-dru-marshall-david-robinson-1.3531851
 See Petrina, Ross, & Mathison (2015). Threat convergence: The new academic work, bullying, mobbing and freedom. Workplace: A Journal for Academic Labor, 24, 58-69. Retrieved from http://ices.library.ubc.ca/index.php/workplace/article/view/186137/185332
“Be Realistic Demand the Impossible”
Rejoinder to Peter Siexas’s
Dangerous indeed: A response to E. Wayne Ross’ ‘Courage of hopelessness’
University of British Columbia
Department of Curriculum and Pedagogy
Seminar Series: Diverse Perspectives on Curriculum & Pedagogy
February 26, 2016
1. The “courage of hopelessness” is, perhaps ironically, an optimistic position.
The publicity blurbs for Peter’s talk stated that he would offer “a way to steer a course between the two closely related traps of hopelessness and utopianism.” This is a misreading of my use of the term “courage of hopelessness,” which is a position of some great optimism.
[Read the text of my January 15, 2016 seminar “The Courage of Hopelessness: Democratic Education in the Age of Empire.” Watch video my talk here. Watch Seixas talk, my response and Q&A with audience below.]
2. Utopia – “Be realistic demand the impossible”
We need Utopia / utopian thought more than ever because we live in a time without alternatives when neoliberal capitalism reins triumphant and uncontested.
[This circumstance is captured in Margaret Thatcher’s declarations: “There is no alternative” and “there is no such thing as society.” The latter of which was embodied in Stephen Harper’s refusal to “commit sociology,” which was an ideological attempt to prevent the identification of and responses to structural injustices that result from capitalism.]
The so-called global free market works well for the One Percent, but not for rest of humanity. In my talk, I provided some examples of the ways in which capitalism trumps democracy (pun intended).
The hegemonic system of global capitalism dominates not because people agree with it; it rules because most people are convinced “There Is No Alternative.” Indeed, as I have argued, the dominant approach to schooling and curriculum, particularly in social studies education, is aimed at indoctrinating students into this belief.
Utopian thinking allows us to consider alternatives, such as the pedagogical imaginaries which I presented in my January seminar, in attempt to open up spaces for rethinking our approaches to learning, teaching, and experiencing the world. And these imaginaries are necessary because traditional tropes of social studies curriculum (e.g., democracy, voting, democratic citizenship) are essentially lies we tell to ourselves and our students (because democracy is incompatible with capitalism; capitalist democracy creates a shallow, spectator version of democracy at best; democracy as it operates now is inseparable from empire/perpetual war and vast social inequalities).
Stephen Duncombe argues that Utopia is politically necessary even for people who do not desire an alternative society,
“Thoughtful politics depend upon debate and without someone or something to disagree with there is no meaningful dialogue, only an echo chamber…Without a vision of an alternative future, we can only look backwards nostalgically to the past, or unthinkingly maintain what we have, mired in the unholy apocalypse that is now.”
3. The Nature of Method or Inquiry
I believe the key question to be posed in social studies and one that history can help us answer is “why are things as are they are?”
[Marx’s method, dialectics, is a tool that does not necessarily require a Marxist politics or practice (class struggle), see for example the dialectical approaches of individualist libertarians Chris Sciabarra and John F. Welsh.]
What we understand about the world is determined by what the world is, who we are, and how we conduct our inquiries.
Things change. Everything in the world is changing and interacting. When studying social issues we should begin by challenging the commonsense ideas of society or particular social issues as a “thing” and consider the processes and relationships that make up what we think of as society or a social issue, which includes its history and possible futures.
Inquiries into social issues help us understand how things change and also contribute to change.
In understanding social issues and how things change it helps to “abstract” or start with “concrete reality” and break it down. Abstraction is like using camera lenses with different focal lengths: a zoom lens to bring a distant object into focus (what is the history of this?) or using a wide-angle lens to capture more of a scene (what is the social context of the issue now?)
This approach raises important questions: where does one start and what does one look for? The traditional approach to inquiry starts with small parts and attempts to establish connections with other parts leading to an understanding of the larger whole. Beginning with the whole, the system, or as much as we understand of it, and then inquiring into the part or parts of it to see how it fits and functions leads to a fuller understanding of the whole.
Analysis of present conditions is necessary, but insufficient. The problem is that reality is more than appearances and focusing on appearances, the face value of evidence from our immediate surroundings, can be misleading.
How do we think adequately about social issues, giving issues the attention and weight they deserve, without the distorting them? We can expand our notion of a social issue (or anything for that matter) to include, as aspects of what it is, both the process by which the issue has come to life and the broader interactive context in which it is found. In this way, the study of a social issue involves us in the study of its history (the preconditions and connections to the past) and the encompassing system.
Remembering, “things change,” provokes us to move beyond analyzing current conditions and historicizing social issues, to project probable or possible futures. In other words, our inquiry leads to the creation of visions of possible futures.
This process of inquiry, then, changes the way we think about a social issue in the here and now (change moves in spirals, not circles) in that we can now look for preconditions of a future in the present and use them to develop political strategies (i.e., organize for change).
4. The School and “Social Progress”
The fundamental parts of human nature include a need for creative work, for creative inquiry, for free creation without the arbitrary limiting effects of coercive institutions.
Schools are continually threatened because they are autocratic and they are autocratic because they are threatened—from within by students and critical parents and from without by various and disparate social, political, and economic interests. These conditions divide teachers from students and community and shape teachers’ attitudes, beliefs, and action.
Teachers then, are crucial to any effort to improve, reform, or revolutionize curriculum, instruction, or schools. The transformation of schools must begin with the teachers, and no program that does not include the personal and collective rehabilitation of teachers can ever overcome the passive resistance of the old order.
Schools should places that enable people to analyze and understand social problems; envision a future without those problems; and take action to bring that vision in to existence.
Social progress is enhanced when we rewrite the narrative of the triumphant individual working within the system into a story of the creation of self-critical communities of educators in schools (and people in society) working collaboratively toward transformative outcomes.
People who talk about transformational learning or educational revolution without referring explicitly to everyday life, without understanding what is subversive about learning, and love, and what is positive in the refusal of constraints, are trapped in a net of received ideas, the common-nonsense and false reality of technocrats (or worse).
Schools are alluring contradictions, harboring possibilities for liberation, emancipation, and social progress, but, as fundamentally authoritarian and hierarchical institutions, they produce myriad oppressive and inequitable by-products. The challenge, perhaps impossibility, is discovering ways in which schools can contribute to positive liberty.
That is a society where individuals have the power and resources to realize and fulfill their own potential, free from the obstacles of classism, racism, sexism and other inequalities encouraged by educational systems and the influence of the state and religious ideologies. A society where people have the agency and capacity, to make their own free choices and act independently based on reason, not authority, tradition, or dogma.
 These remarks were presented immediately following Seixas’ presentation and prepared without the opportunity to read the text of his talk in advance. As a result, they are based upon the abstract circulated prior to his seminar and my understanding of Seixas’ perspective based upon his published work and our interactions as faculty members at UBC.
Video of Seixas presentation, Ross response and Q&A with audience (February 26, 2016):
Date: Friday, February 26th 2016
Venue: Scarfe Room 310
Time: 12:30 – 2:00 p.m.
Title: Dangerous indeed: A response to Wayne Ross’ “Courage of hopelessness”
Speaker: Dr. Peter Seixas, Professor, EDCP
Light lunch served at noon outside Scarfe room 310. The Lecture commences at 12:30 pm. There is no need to RSVP.
Yes, yes, the past gets in the way; it trips us up, bogs us down; it complicates, makes difficult. But to ignore this is folly, because, above all, what history teaches us is to avoid illusion and make-believe, to lay aside dreams, moonshine, cure-alls, wonder-workings, pie-in-the-sky—to be realistic.
–Tom Crick, the history teacher, in Graham Swift’s Waterland, p. 108
In his EDCP Seminar on January 15, Dr. Wayne Ross challenged commonplace notions of schools, teacher education, the subject of social studies, democracy and freedom. In this talk (text, video, powerpoint), I review the arguments and confront them as a colleague—in the department, in social studies education, and in the project of educating teachers for British Columbia schools. As the basis of my critique, I offer a theoretical framework through the concept of “historical agency,” which calls attention to the abilities of people to act individually and collectively to shape the course of history, as well as the limitations on those abilities. It offers a way to steer a course between the two closely related traps of hopelessness and utopianism. I sketch its utility specifically in relation to 1) understanding our own social and political situation, 2) thinking about the role of schools and teachers in democratic societies, 3) developing useful curriculum and pedagogy in Canada today, 4) educating student teachers in the Faculty of Education, and 5) conducting educational research that matters.
The Vancouver Observer recently published a commentary co-authored by Sandra Mathison, Stephen Petrina and myself (co-directors of the Institute for Critical Education Studies) on the recent failures of governance at the University of British Columbia.
Read the piece on the Vancouver Observer site, here.