Reconciliation in the undergraduate engineering curriculum

Truth this week is hard. Words are not enough. Actions matter. Education matters. We began our National Indigenous History Month posts with a call to learn more about the TRC final report. We conclude our month with the hard truth that anti-Indigenous racism is still very present in everyday Canadian life. Learn more about the In Plain Sight report by Dr. Mary-Ellen Turpel-Lafond: Addressing Racism in BC Health Care (gov.bc.ca)

Dr. Ian Foulds with students in a lab looking at a reading from an experiment.
Ian Foulds with School of Engineering students at UBCO.

As part of the work of reconciliation in engineering study and practice, Drs. Ian Foulds and Jannik Haruo Eikenaar have implemented a scaffolded course of study through the four program years of the undergraduate engineering curriculum in the School of Engineering (SOE) at the Okanagan campus.

The project focuses on preparing students to understand why and how to engage in good faith with Indigenous communities in engineering contexts. There is a tremendous need for this understanding: professional engineering practice must be responsive to the legal and ethical demands of consultation and engagement, and through this project Ian and Jannik are preparing the students for a significantly changed work environment.

The specific interventions are:

  • Year One: introduction of foundational concepts in Indigenous reconciliation through study of sustainable design
  • Year Two: development of understanding of Indigenous communities’ histories and contexts through completion of a case study
  • Year Three: development of understanding of Indigenous histories and contexts as they pertain to engineering project management
  • Year Four: development of understanding of legal and ethical considerations in consultation and engagement with Indigenous communities

Complementing the curricular interventions, we have developed co-curricular mini-courses in Intercultural Foundations and Indigenous Foundations that are available to students, staff, and faculty, and Ian and Jannik host a monthly meeting with members of Aboriginal Programs and Services, faculty from other academic units, and students, staff, and faculty in SOE.

Profile – Ian Foulds

Learn about the personal and deeply committed work of decolonization for Associate Professor Ian Foulds of UBCO’s School of Engineering. Ian, a UBC Okanagan Principal’s Research Chair (Tier 1) in Indigenous Reconciliation in Engineering, is passionate about teaching students how to engage and consult with Indigenous communities in engineering contexts.

As an engineer and member of the Métis Nation British Columbia, Ian understands the importance of connecting engineers and aspiring engineers with Indigenous peoples and culture. Read more here: Ian Foulds (ubc.ca)

Agnes d'Entremont photo
Agnes d'Entremont

Resource:

Associate Professor of Teaching Agnes d’Entremont has created a MECH 2 course that embeds decolonization in a thoughtful and inspiring way. Enroll in Mech 2 EDI Curriculum Demo.

Action:

Indigenous people have been speaking their truth for a long time. No longer should we say we have no words. We need to find words and take action.  Demand more of yourself and our country. Continue to learn more about Indigenous people, Indigenous issues and Indigenous history. The news this month has been difficult and painful. No matter what our disciplines, background or identity, we carry a duty to hear the truth about the genocide of Indigenous people and confront our past. Demand action of yourself.

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