Vocational hazards »« A tribe of one

Discourses

There’s a new course at UBC this spring: ‘Ecology, Technology, Indigeneity and Learning: Contexts, Complexities, and Cross-cultural Conversations’ May 7 – June 15, 2012. Tuesdays & Thursdays, 1:00 – 4:00pm
Here’s the skinny:

Ecological and technological educational discourses are often taught as separate discourses downplaying, or ignoring altogether, their interconnectedness, complexities, and complicities, as well as their diverse cultural contexts. This course offers students an opportunity to critically explore how to reconnect and reshape these storylines into enactments of equity, social justice, cultural inclusivity, environmental sustainability and environmental justice.

Students will be introduced to the voices of Indigenous Peoples and other marginalized peoples impacted by neoliberalism and global economics who share their struggles for survival, cultural regeneration and protection/reclamation of their lands, as well as their vibrant and rich technological ecoliteracies. These ecoliteracies speak to the complex social and ecological crises worldwide. Students will reflect on how they learn, think, feel, act, and write as they work toward the creation of sustainable learning communities — Indigenous, non-Indigenous, urban, rural, on-line, on-the-ground, classroom, or otherwise delineated — based on principles of respect, reciprocity, equivalency of epistemologies/methodologies/protocols, and shared dialogue.

This course will be of interest to education students seeking ways to introduce cross-cultural eco-sensibilities into their classroom teaching, as well as to students outside of education who are seeking a graduate course that addresses the multiple contexts, complexities, and complicities of the ecology—technology—Indigeneity/social justice interfaces.

I’m particularly interested in the “principle” of equivalency of epistemologies.

Comments

  1. says

    This course description makes my head ache. this is the kind of course description all professors would like to work with; it contains no learning outcomes or specifics. Is this a course or a discourse?

    This sentence is especially intriguing,

    Students will reflect on how they learn, think, feel, act, and write as they work toward the creation of sustainable learning communities — Indigenous, non-Indigenous, urban, rural, on-line, on-the-ground, classroom, or otherwise delineated —

    To whom does they refer, the students or “Indigenous Peoples and other marginalized peoples.” Other noun/pronoun agreements are equally ambiguous.

    This course buys into the myth that Indigenous Peoples were environmentally responsible before the Europeans arrived.

    One of the readings listed is _Subversive spiritualities: How rituals enact the world_ See http://www.ccfi.educ.ubc.ca/Courses_syllabus/CCFI%20565B_abstract.pdf

  2. says

    Hahaha,I’d forgotten Carolyn Guertin.

    http://www.butterfliesandwheels.org/2007/quantum-quantumness/

    Quantum feminist works make no attempt to reconcile this dislocation between networked nodes and their gaps in space-time. Instead, they foreground and use this aspect, highlighting the disjunctures of the subject’s position as she is depicted and as she voyages through the text…In her essay “The Roots of Nonlinearity,” hypertextualist Christie Sheffield Sanford says that modern physics has erased the concept of absolutes in time and space and that this is evident in the texts of the new media as well. She uses indeterminacy theorist Werner Heisenberg to support her theories…

  3. Josh Slocum says

    Ophelia, this is like a trip down memory lane to the days of B&W yore! Christ, this shit is still with us??

  4. CanadianSteve says

    Sounds like the lamest excuse for a professor to teach nothing I’ve heard in along time.

    It really seems like they just tried to include as many feel god buzzwords as they could with no actual outcomes.

    Thank you flying spaghetti monster I don’t have to sit through this.

  5. says

    Whenever I encounter homophobia or prejudice, it would be so easy to dismiss it as a “different epistemology”. But that would be to do a disservice to the academic study of epistemology and to their own moral responsibility.

    This is what pisses me off about postmodernist twaddle: the sexist or the homophobe can deploy it too and just say that they are in a different mode of knowledge and adhere to a different epistemology.

    Sometimes bigotry doesn’t require a high-falutin’ philosophical explanation, sometimes it’s just that they are assholes.

  6. Matt Penfold says

    This is what pisses me off about postmodernist twaddle: the sexist or the homophobe can deploy it too and just say that they are in a different mode of knowledge and adhere to a different epistemology.

    The racist as well.

    Students will be introduced to the voices of Indigenous Peoples and other marginalized peoples impacted by neoliberalism and global economics who share their struggles for survival, cultural regeneration and protection/reclamation of their lands, as well as their vibrant and rich technological ecoliteracies.

    With different language that could have been said by far-right groups in Europe. I doubt that is what the course organisers had in mind when they wrote this crap, but it is what can happen when insufficient thought is given to the matter.

  7. SAWells says

    I’m honestly surprised that they didn’t fit “Noble Savage” into that course description somewhere.

  8. sailor1031 says

    Well they can’t say “noble savage” because of its racist and neocolonial undertones. But they do say:

    “Indigenous Peoples and other marginalized peoples impacted by neoliberalism and global economics who share their struggles for survival, cultural regeneration and protection/reclamation of their lands, as well as their vibrant and rich technological ecoliteracies”

    which is PM-speak meaning “noble savage”…….

  9. Boomer says

    Will the students be sitting in a healing circle while the course is taught?

    And will they tweet?

    I mean, the way birds tweet.

    Rockin’ Robin.

  10. Michael Fugate says

    What are “sustainable” learning communities? Learning is recycled? composted? on-site?

  11. says

    Ms O’Riley is described as conducting a “rhizoanalysis”. There’s a discussion of this concept here by an academic who claims to be interested in “sexual dynamics in secondary classrooms” and speaks of a “wild ass-fucking of tradition”. There’s another here by someone who’s inordinately proud of themself for drawing a false equivalence between Seinfeld, Pulp Fiction and, er, 90s hit single Are You Jimmy Ray?. You’ll be completely unsurprised to hear that Deleuze and Guattari are at the bottom of this.

  12. Michael Fugate says

    Rhizoanalysis seems like a fancy name for a concept mapping. I get the feeling that Deleuze loved to create new words for old things and then change the meaning of the words just to confuse or annoy. The postmodernist usage is always good for laugh, though.

  13. Ken Pidcock says

    I’m particularly interested in the “principle” of equivalency of epistemologies.

    Why, in my day, those were representations of knowledge.

  14. Dave says

    Natalie Reed’s piece is brilliant. Holding open the space between a ‘post-modernity’ and its consequences which simply *is* the product of the evolution of western culture, and a ‘post-modernism’ which is an uncritical acceptance of any number of false equivalences, is vital. Just as the distance between a ‘scepticism’ of ex cathedra pronouncements of all kinds, and a ‘skepticism’ which actually involves a tireless pursuit of fashionable woo must be maintained [what *is* the point of exploring UFO sightings, except as an anthropologist?]

    The capture of the core insights of post-modernism by a large cohort of people who evidently couldn’t actually think their way out of a paper bag, and have nothing useful to contribute to the practical dilemmas of the 21st century, may in time come to be seen as one of the foremost intellectual tragedies of recent decades.

    And here’s the link again, in case you missed it: http://freethoughtblogs.com/nataliereed/2012/03/08/confessions-of-a-post-modernist/

  15. Gordon Campbell says

    Natalie seems to say that po-mo gives some skills or knowledge or understanding that helps you see through your assumptions and question your misconceptions. I don’t see it. I’ve never seen these alleged insights explained or outlined. Regular science recognises that the truth is hard to find, that we can be trapped by assumptions and predjudices that we don’t even know about.

    The high falutin claim of many in the po-mo/ crit theory (etc) camp is that there is no terrain out there, just maps. You can only compare one map to another. The lesser claim (the one Natalie says is real po-mo) is that there is real terrain out there –we just need to recognise that the map is not the terrain. But this lesser claim is just regular science. Science knows this!

    Po-mo gives no special insight. It just cloaks banalities or absurdities in word salad. Po-mo is needlessly obscurantist, which is part of its survival as a meme. You can always claim that critics have failed to correctly grasp it.

    Po-mo exploits ambiguity between the high falutin and the lesser claim. Embracing the high falutin claim when it serves–it allows po-mo to present itself as an epistomological revolution–but then retreating to the lesser claim when challenged.

  16. Dave says

    ‘Regular science’ in the C18 helped persuade forward-thinking people that women’s place was in the home; ‘regular science’ in the C19 helped persuade forward-thinking people that eugenics was a good idea. ‘Regular science’ is never ENOUGH, because ‘regular science’ is never done in a political, social or cultural vacuum. You have no idea what ‘regular scientists’ would be doing, right now, if eugenic ideas had been allowed to prevail politically for long enough to meet up with the last 30 years’ worth of work on DNA manipulation. You might like to read, for example, this, which is very far from being ‘post-modernist’ in its style, but demonstrates just how difficult it was to get scientists to stop using ‘race’ as an analytical concept in the years after 1945: Gavin Schaffer, Racial Science and British Society 1930-62, (Basingstoke and New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008). ISBN: 978-0-230-00892-2

    The rest of your claims are just unsubstantiated vague accusations.

  17. says

    This thread looks like it is on the precipice of descending into No True Scotsman style argument over what a real post-modernist and/or scientist does or believes.

  18. Dave says

    Indeed, since ‘real’ scientists and post-modernists do and believe a very wide range of things, some of which are ludicrous. I suspect there are even some ‘real’ scientists out there who are post-modernists…

  19. Michael Fugate says

    “regular scientists” as opposed to “extra-special, post-modern scientists?”

  20. leftwingfox says

    But this lesser claim is just regular science. Science knows this!

    Science as a method? Yes. Science as the population of human beings attempting to use the scientific methods? Not so much.

    As human beings, we have our own biases and cultural assumptions. We may be blind as outsiders to issues the locals have been familiar with on an anecdotal level. When dealing with the social sciences to create evidence-based political policy, human interaction is vital to collecting better data and ensuring cooperation from the population. Finally, when implementing science-based policy, local needs, motivations and participation are required for successful implementation.

    This is all especially true when those trained in the scientific method are raised outside the culture or region they are studying.

    None of this is directly involved with the scientific method. How can science answer a question when the scientist doesn’t bother to ask it? How do you deal with statistically higher regional suicide levels if you don’t understand the deeper cultural issues that may be fuelling it? How can you implement a successful whaling policy if you don’t take into account food security issues of indigenous populations?

  21. leftwingfox says

    Just to clarify the point above, the point of this is not necessarily that the scientific method is _wrong_ but that the scientific method is only one of the required tools when dealing with the human aspects of social research and policy development and implementation.

  22. Gordon Campbell says

    I was not very clear in what I meant by ‘regular science’. I don’t mean people with beakers in lab coats & I don’t mean this as a science vs. humanities thing (being more the humanities-type person myself). By ‘science’ I mean the pursuit of knowledge using logic and evidence–in history, sociology, linguistics, wherever. And by ‘regular’ I mean the type of science that is concerned with understanding stuff, and communicating that knowledge as clearly and succinctly as possible, rather than with problematizing the hegemonic metanarrative of evidence-based discourse by throwing polysyllables wrapped in impenetrable syntax at it.

    Understanding stuff through logic and evidence is NOT easy. It’s not straightforward. People can be biased and not even know they are biased. And yes in the C18th and C19th (and always and ever since and before) people have got it wrong.

    In science we can say they got it wrong. And science gives the best tools to see and find where people have got it wrong. In po-mo you can’t say they got it wrong, you can only say they got it different.

Trackbacks

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>