Decolonizing Knowledge in a Course on Sociology of Knowledge

Grant program: Disrupting Colonialism through Teaching: An Integrated Seminar Series and Grants Program

Grant recipient: Ann Travers, Department of Sociology and Anthropology

Project team: Nerida Bullock, research assistant

Timeframe: May 2019 to June 2020

Funding: $6000

Course addressed: SA 327 – Sociology of Knowledge

Description: In my project students will learn about Indigenous knowledge systems and apply that understanding to a critical exploration of major energy projects in the province of British Columbia. Students will use a problem-based learning cooperative group project format to develop a collective research presentation, accompanied by individual written reports, on an aspect of or issue relating to energy resource extraction in B.C. Lectures on traditional western vs. alternative knowledge systems based in feminist science studies, ecological and decolonial perspectives will be augmented by class presentations by Indigenous experts and documentary material. An in-class test and a take-home final exam will assess the students’ command of course material and ability to apply it to resource extraction issues in the province.

Colonialism functions in part because of the erasure of First Nations, Inuit and Métis presence on and histories with the land. This course unsettles common sense frameworks of knowledge that normalize resource extraction and colonial state control of unceded Indigenous territories. Students will gain a much more nuanced understanding of B.C. and Canadian colonial history and issues relating to land and resource extraction.

Questions addressed:

  • To what extent are students able to integrate Indigenous knowledge systems into a critical understanding of major energy extraction projects in BC?
  • How does knowledge relating to Indigenous histories, land claims and colonial history in BC change the way students think about resource extraction and land claims in the province?
  • How are students able to integrate Indigenous knowledge systems in their cooperative group presentations?
  • To what extent do classroom speakers impact student development of knowledge?
  • How effective were the materials and activities chosen for supporting students’ ability to understand and integrate Indigenous knowledge into a critical understanding of major energy extraction projects in BC?

Knowledge sharing: I plan to share my project findings at a brown bag seminar with Decolonizing Teaching Workshop 2018 Cohort. In addition I plan to submit a paper to the Canadian Sociological Association paper in 2019.