Researchers seek to understand how students share, process information on colonization

Two University of Lethbridge researchers are examining how indigenous and non-indigenous students negotiate, process and critically reflect on information they are learning about colonization in university classrooms.

Drs. Linda Many Guns (above, Native American Studies) and Cheryl Currie (below, Public Health) seek answers through a multidisciplinary approach.

The new study, funded by the University of Lethbridge Research Fund, is co-led by Drs. Linda Many Guns (Native American Studies) and Cheryl Currie (Public Health), pulling together research strengths in a multidisciplinary approach from the Faculties of Arts & Science and Health Sciences.

"We have a shared history of colonization in Canada. Treaty making required agreements between the original peoples and colonial parties. In that sense, we are all treaty people,” says Many Guns, the study lead. “We are interested in learning more about how students negotiate and process this information in the classroom.”

The mixed methods project will survey U of L students, as well as counsellors and Indigenous Elders who work closely with students on campus.

“We, as instructors at the University, have witnessed how the learning of colonial histories impacts both indigenous and non-indigenous students,” says Currie. “We wish to better understand these experiences, and the supports students may need in this process.”

The team will also seek to better understand what resources faculty members might require as they teach the material.

“Information gained from the study will help to build an evidence base that universities can use to strengthen supports for indigenous and non-indigenous students alike, and to understand how we can come together to understand our shared histories," says Many Guns.

The U of L study will commence October 2016 with results expected in late 2017.