Professor Kimberly Huyser teaches Sociology of Indigenous Peoples in the upcoming school year

Professor Kimberly Huyser will lead students in a redesigned course focusing on the effects of the social meanings of race, ethnicity, gender, and class for Indigenous peoples in Canada and the United States.

Indigenous peoples have been present in the North American continent prior to the establishment of the countries that currently exist on it. In this class, students will study how race and ethnicity have played significant roles in the history of Canadian and United States and still do so today. Students will also learn about Indigenous peoples’ unique place in folklore and culture. The course will explore how these social meanings shape identity formation, life chances, health, and social policy.

Dr. Huyser brings her specialized knowledge of the social conditions that undermine health, as well as the cultural and social resources leveraged by racial and ethnic groups in order to further their individual and collective health and well-being to the teaching of this course at UBC Sociology.

SOCI 220 – Sociology of Indigenous Peoples will be taught as part of Winter Term Two starting January 2022. We spoke to Dr. Huyser about what students will study in her class.

Dr. Kimberly Huyser

What will you be covering in this class?

We examine the fundamental role that Indigenous Peoples have played and are playing in the countries currently known as Canada and the United States. Through understanding the social position of Indigenous Peoples, the students are able to see the historical and ongoing impact of colonization not only on the outcomes of Indigenous peoples but also their own lives and life experiences.

What do you hope people take away from this class?

I hope that through this course that students will understand the unique contributions of and social position of Indigenous peoples and thus feel that they have the knowledge to meaningfully invest in their social world and work toward a better world.

What motivated you to develop this course? What was the process like?

I find comparison is a useful tool; thus, I have designed the course to compare and contrast the countries currently called Canada and the United States. This allows students to see how each country has interacted with Indigenous Peoples but also how Indigenous Peoples resist and build their lives.

Who will you be studying in this course? Which reading(s) on this subject would you recommend?

I like to use as many medias to learn as possible in the course content. We use podcasts like “This Land” hosted by Rebecca Nagle and “Unreserved” with Falen Johnson. There is also an opportunity to write a reflection paper on films such as Smoke Signals and Blood Quantum. I find these medias allow students to learn about the complex social world of Indigenous Peoples. As far as readings, I primarily use writings from Indigenous scholars.

How would you describe your teaching style?

I like to spend the majority of class time actively engaging with the course material and concepts. So, I encourage sharing and discussion. The course uses the “ungraded” method; students still receive a letter grade, but there are no exams. The grade is based on self-assessment of work completed and engaged with throughout the term, with possible adjustments (up or down) from me. The approach allows students to determine their intellectual growth and engagement, with feedback from me.