This past Spring, Dr. Eduardo Jovel, Associate Professor, LFS, and Director, Indigenous Research Partnerships, co-created a course with UBC’s Teaching and Learning Enhancement Fund (TLEF) and Elder Barbara Wyss (Founder, Ustlahn Social Society). The community-based experiential learning field course provided interdisciplinary and interprofessional training through a work immersion experience in the Squamish First Nation community.
“This is the first example I’m aware of where the content was co-created and the course was co-delivered with a community partner,” said Kyle Nelson, LFS Community-Based Experiential Learning Officer.
Launched in the summer of 2012, ten students from a range of disciplines participated in workshops, discussion groups, and hands-on training at venues across campus, including the Museum of Anthropology and UBC Farm. One week of interdisciplinary classroom and field instruction exposed them to topics including Indigenous food sovereignty and integrated pest management.
During two weeks on the Capilano Reserve in West Vancouver, they worked alongside Squamish First Nation community members. “The students engaged in a real situation. It was more than just a project,” said Dr. Jovel. “This had a visible impact in the community and on the students.”
Squamish First Nation community gained support for initiatives such as community garden enhancement and the re-establishment of Indigenous foods and medicines, while the students were exposed to new ways of learning and collaboration. The community fieldwork and student projects incorporated traditional knowledge, indigenous research methodologies, ceremonies, and sharing circles.
Students built a pond system to grow indigenous root vegetables, shared in the creation of a medicine wheel, and produced educational materials on topics from composting to bee keeping.
One student shared: “Throughout our three weeks with Squamish Nation, I was continuously reflecting on how we are going to carry that magic forward into our lives. This experience has helped ground me and move me forward in life.”