Integrating Aboriginal Philosophy and Ethics Values in Applied Health Ethics

Grant program: Teaching and Learning Development Grant (TLDG)

Grant recipient: Diego Silva, Faculty of Health Sciences

Project team: Lorelei Lester and Elizabeth Rice, research assistants

Timeframe: January 2017 to August 2018

Fudning: $6,000

Course addressed: HSCI 319 – Applied Health Ethics

Final report: View Diego Silva's final report (PDF)

Description: Currently, the readings and discussions for HSCI 319 are derived from the dominant Western Analytic philosophical tradition, as is generally the case in the English-speaking world. Given the goals of the Faculty of Health Sciences and SFU to indigenize the curriculum, it is imperative to interrogate how Aboriginal ways of thinking and ethics coheres and does not cohere with the current ethics canon, and how to make sense of this coherence and dissonance. SFU students should be challenged to think critically about how Aboriginal values speak with the values and ethics of the Canadian public health system and global health more broadly.

The objective of this TLDG project is two-fold: first, I want to determine how best to think about and incorporate Aboriginal philosophical thinking and ethics values into HSCI 319. As such, I need to conduct a thorough literature review into Aboriginal philosophy and ethics, and consult with Aboriginal colleagues and those colleagues working in Aboriginal health, to see how I can alter my current syllabus and help our students grapple with these difficult questions. Second, I want to investigate what HSCI 319 students have perceived to have learned vis-à-vis the incorporation of Aboriginal ethics values, and how these ideas cohere or not with the Western Analytic philosophical tradition from which the rest of the course material is derived.

Questions addressed:

  • What are Canadian Aboriginal philosophical traditions and ethics?  How can they be incorporated into my current syllabus for HSCI 319?
  • As a result of taking this course, can students think critically about how this coheres or does not with the traditional Western Analytical ethics canon?
  • What do students in HSCI 319 think they have learned about the different Aboriginal philosophical traditions and ethics?

Knowledge sharing: I presented the findings to the Faculty of Health Sciences' Undergraduate Studies Committee, May 2018.

Keywords: Indigenous; Aboriginal; ethics; values; ways of thinking; ways of knowing; public health; global health; philosophy; post-pre survey; essay; health; bioethics; public health ethics