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Growing pains for expanding Indigenous Studies major

Justine Landis-Hanley and Naaman Zhou report

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Administrative errors and buried notices have dampened the launch of a revitalised Indigenous Studies major.

The restructure, which aims at a long-term expansion of the course, sees a reduced number of subjects on offer in 2016. Current students were only notified of the changes at the bottom of an email sent last week, two months after enrolment opened.

The transitional period has also seen a handful of online errors. Earlier this week, the faculty website listed two FASS3000 (Internship for Credit) units as part of the major. This would have required students to work a minimum of 120 hours with an external organization. Honi was informed this was an error and would be corrected shortly.

Over the weekend, the online Unit of Study listing was also unavailable, with an error message declaring the “database unreachable”. At the time of publication, the online listing has returned, but with the internship units still displayed.

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Professor Shane Houston, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Indigenous Strategy and Services) and Professor Barbara Caine (Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences) assured Honi that the major had a bright future. “The number of options available in the major will increase over time, reflecting an [overall] strengthening”, they said.

“Additional elective units are being developed and these will be progressively added to the handbook in 2017 and beyond.”

SRC Indigenous Officer Georgia Mantle said it was encouraging to hear staff still understood the importance of an Indigenous Studies major, but was disappointed that these administrative errors occurred.

“The University really missed out on a great opportunity to celebrate the position Indigenous Studies has within academia by not highlighting the launch better”, she said.