Contextualizing Public Policy Analysis: Insights from Indigenous Perspectives

Grant program: Decolonizing Teaching

Grant recipient: Kora DeBeck, School of Public Policy

Project team: TBD

Timeframe: November 2018 to March 2020

Funding: $5980

Course addressed:

  • PLCY 800 – Introduction to Public Policy Issues and Analysis I
  • PLCY 807 – Introduction to Public Policy Issues and Analysis II

Description: PLCY 800 and 807 are required core courses for all our masters of public policy graduate studies. The courses cover conventional steps and approaches to providing decision support for policy makers, both inside and outside of government. In British Columbia, almost every aspect of public policy impacts Indigenous peoples and directly involves issues of Indigenous Rights. There is currently a module in the course that introduces how Aboriginal Title and Rights considerations must be integrated and incorporated into policy analysis to ensure that decision support for government is consistent with legal requirements with respect to Indigenous peoples. There is currently, however, less explicit recognition or discussion of the Euro-Centric nature of policy analysis and the multiple ways government decision-making processes have been and continue to be a tool of colonization.

The intervention I am proposing involves having the students engage with Thomas King’s Massey Lecture 5 What is it about us that you don’t like from the “The Truth About Stories” series and an interview with Pamela Palmater on Democracy Now discussing the report of theTRC.

Providing students with the opportunity to become aware of (if they weren’t already) and reflect on the role of public policy in colonization (both historic and present) is intended to inform and deepen their understandings of reconciliation, as well as reflect on how their perspectives of colonization and reconciliation may shape how they approach and conduct public policy analysis in their future work.

Questions addressed:

  • What is the baseline knowledge and understanding of colonialism? Do students identify that colonialism is ongoing? Do students identify public policy as a chief tool of colonialism?
  • What are students’ prior sentiments with respect to Indigenous Rights?
  • In what ways did the intervention increase students’ knowledge?
  • Do students identify awareness of how public policy and legislation has and continues to be used to dispossess Indigenous people of their land and status as new knowledge?
  • Do students attribute the intervention to having shifted their sentiments about Indigenous Rights? If so, in what ways?
  • Do students attribute the intervention to having impacted their understandings of colonialism and reconciliation? If so in what ways?
  • Do students indicate that their perspectives of colonialism and reconciliation will affect how they will approach their future work as public policy analysts?
  • What key ideas will shape how students approach and conduct public policy analysis in the future?

Dissemination: I will share the results of the project with my colleagues in the School of Public Policy and use it as an opportunity to discuss approaches they might take to integrate Indigenous perspectives in their courses.