International Education Week features launch of new DIPA program
International Education Week features launch of new DIPA programNovember 08, 2005Sara Millersemortim@syr.edu
From Nov. 13-18, Syracuse University will join academic institutions across the country in observing International Education Week, a joint initiative of the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Education to recognize and promote programs that prepare Americans for a global environment and attract future leaders from abroad to study, learn and exchange experiences in the United States.
The Division of International Programs Abroad (DIPA) has announced a new international study program, “Arctic Journey: The Inuit and their Land,” which is a first-of-its-kind offering for DIPA.
Undergraduate and graduate students participating in this six-week, six-credit, interdisciplinary program will learn first-hand about the environment of the Arctic region and the Territory of Nunavut, Canada, which has undergone a recent social movement that led to the creation of a new public government guided by Inuit values. Specifically, students will be immersed in the culture of the Inuit of Nunavut, the indigenous people of this region whose traditions, recent political history and contemporary governance will be the focus of study. The program takes place May 18-June 20, 2006-one of the most dramatic seasons of this region, ranging from the thawing of the frozen land to the blossoming of the purple saxifrage.
“We hope this program will be a regular DIPA summer offering, because it fits in with Chancellor Cantor’s Haudenosaunee Promise and her commitment to diversity and reaching out to various communities,” says Daisy Fried, associate director in DIPA.
Program participants begin in Syracuse and then move on to Ottawa for an introduction to Inuit history and government. From Ottawa, students travel to Nunavut’s capital city of Iqaluit, on Baffin Island, to spend three and a half weeks interacting with the Inuit people-learning from their personal stories and experiences and through visits to local schools and community organizations. The program will be fairly evenly divided between time spent in the classroom and outside the classroom researching individual projects and working in community service for Iqaluit. Students will also visit a smaller Inuit arts community in Pangnirtung and take part in a camping trip on the land, led by Inuit elders.
Students will take two three-credit classes as part of this program, “Arctic Regional Studies: Arctic Geography and Environment,” an interactive course taught by local elders and experts on the geography and culture of the region, and “Inuit Political Development and Governance,” a seminar on how the Inuit first began their public government. Both courses are taught at the undergraduate and graduate levels.
Holly (Unikaaq) Dobbins, graduate student in the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, will be the faculty member guiding this educational experience in the Arctic. Dobbins’ research focuses on the creation of the Territory of Nunavut and the 30 years of Inuit social movements and politics that have brought it about. Dobbins has spent the last four years researching Nunavut and the stories of the people who helped to create it. She has lived in the Arctic for over a year and has met most of the people involved in creating Nunavut, an experience on which her dissertation, “Nunavut: A Creation Story. The Inuit movement and Canada’s Newest Territory,” is based.
“The program is not only about Inuit culture, it is about the experience of an indigenous people who successfully made the transition from the stone age to the space age and from colonization to self-governance in less than 50 years, and did it nonviolently using the Canadian system of pluralistic democracy,” says Dobbins. “Along the way, they learned from other indigenous peoples around the world and opened or furthered international, regional and local dialogues about indigenous identity and indigenous knowledge.”
Dobbins notes that although somewhat geographically separated-the Inuit live in Arctic Russia, Alaska, Canada and Greenland-they are one people and helped lead the way in gaining a voice for indigenous peoples within the United Nations. They now work hand in hand as equals with their Western scientific colleagues as they work to study climate change, the impact of global warming and persistent organic pollutants (POPs).
“The story of Nunavut is the story of an entire social movement and of a people who went from pre-colonial experience, through colonization and resistance through negotiation all within the course of a human lifetime. Students will listen to leaders who began the movement, who are still living and have much to teach,” says Dobbins.
Indigenous studies has been an area of added academic focus at SU, with the announcement of the Haudenosaunee Promise scholarship for Native American students in August and the expanded academic offerings in studies of the historical and contemporary indigenous issues through The Center for Indigenous Law, Governance & Citizenship in the College of Law and the Native American Studies program in The College of Arts and Sciences. According to Sue Wadley, associate dean in Arts and Sciences, “this new Arctic studies program focuses on two key issues of concern to the SU community: environmental change and indigenous peoples. Further, DIPA’s support of Inuit students coming to SU, coming from a community of approximately 3,000 people, and Haudenosaunee students going to Iqaluit is a clear signal of SU’s commitment to diversity.”