Capilano making inroads with Indigenous themes, but lacks courses about other significant groups
Capilano University has recently committed itself to incorporating Indigenous Ways of Knowing into its curriculum, by fostering understanding and reconciliation on campus, as well as developing an Aboriginal One program for first-year students as an extension of its Aboriginal Student Success Strategy. Moreover, CapU has continued to create courses organized to discuss and embrace diversity, not only on campus but on a global context.
With its vibrant Art History and Women and Gender Studies departments, CapU has been able to adopt diversity through cultural and political regarding courses.
CapU instructor for Art History and Women and Gender Studies, and current Chair of the Humanities Division, Sandra Seekins, is passionate about incorporating issues of diversity in her courses. “I incorporate gender issues and social justice issues in all of the classes I teach, whether in Women’s and Gender Studies, Art History, or in courses for the Liberal Studies Degree. No subject is untouched and every discipline benefits from discussions surrounding inequity and injustice,” said Seekins.
With programs such as the Global Stewardship program, and with departments such as Sociology, and Social Sciences, critically evaluating global awareness, CapU has proved to be able to support diversity and encourage a growth in worldly culture awareness, specifically regarding Indigenous peoples. However, there seems to still be a shortage in the diverse course offerings that the University has, particularly in Asian, African, Middle Eastern, and Latin American Diaspora studies.
“At the risk of simplification, I would say that generally, if people are not exposed to diversity (racial, religious, class, non-binary gender identification, etc.) they will remain uninformed and in reactive fear. Disadvantaged groups working as allies can counter patriarchal norms, white privilege, and heteronormativity. Intolerance of difference can lead to violence, hate, censorship and vigilantism,” said Seekins. “When the groups with the most power feel threatened, the result is often a clawing back of civil liberties, increased hate speech, changes to immigration policies, the rise of the alt-right (call it fascism), and retrenchment. We currently see this happening in the United States, but we are certainly not immune. Curbing the powers of the press, erosion of the public education system, funding cuts to the arts… all of these devolutions devastate democracy. Silence is the enemy in the face of these changes.”
Acknowledging Canada’s official second language as French, CapU offers an extensive amount of French courses that explore culture, too. These include progressive courses such as Beginning French (FREN 100 and 101), Lower Intermediate French (FREN 120 and 121), and Intermediate French (FREN 204 and 205). The language department also offers unique French courses for those who are more advanced in their language journey, including Studies in French Through Cinema (FREN 315), and Quebecois Literature and Culture (FREN 330).
While the Linguistics Language Department offers courses in First Nations Languages of British Columbia (LING 206), and Indigenous Languages and Their Speakers (LING 208), there are also additional certificates. These include the Lil’wat Nation Language & Culture Certificate, which provides courses that are relevant to Lil’wat culture, told from a Lil’wat perspective; the Sechelt Nation Language & Culture Certificate, which is designed to give current and future Sechelt Language teachers training in the Sechelt Language, providing a range of courses relevant to Sechelt culture and are told from a Sechelt perspective; and the Squamish Nation Language & Culture Certificate, which is designed to give current and future Squamish Language teachers training in the Squamish Language, providing a range of courses relevant to Squamish culture as told from a Squamish perspective.
Honouring its roots, CapU offers a great deal of Indigenous courses embedded into many programs. Courses carry out from Indigenous Digital Filmmaking (IDF) Courses, Indigenous Studies (IDST) Courses, First Nation (FNST) Courses, and First Nation Language (FNLG) Courses. The CapU English Department also offers First Nations Literature and Film (ENGL 107), reading and discussing aboriginal poetry, plays, screenplays, films, novels and memoirs across national boundaries.
Still, CapU lacks courses in African and Caribbean Studies, as well as Asian and Pacific Studies, acknowledging the diversity within both those subjects.
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