The University of Wisconsin-Green Bay’s First Nations Studies program has been named the 2012 UW System Board of Regents Diversity Award winner in the Institutional/Unit category. The award will be presented Friday, Feb. 10 during the Board of Regents meeting in Madison.
Established in 2009 to recognize and support individuals and programs that foster access and success in university life for historically underrepresented populations, the annual Regents Diversity Awards are presented in three categories — individual, team and institution/unit. Winners are recognized publicly during the Regents’ meeting and receive a grant to support individual recipients’ professional development or to continue the program being honored. This is the first time UW-Green Bay has won a Regents Diversity Award.
Part of the Professional Program in Education at UW-Green Bay, First Nations Studies is an interdisciplinary degree program that reflects the holistic worldview of the indigenous people of Turtle Island (North America). The program is committed to the study of American Indian culture, philosophy, history and language, as well as the social, economic and political status of indigenous people and their communities. First Nations Studies places primary emphasis on the oral traditions of American Indian tribal communities, incorporating the teaching and learning approaches of tribal people and offering students a new way to learn. Tribal Elders share the oral tradition, and students take part in oral traditional learning experiences both within the classroom and in local tribal communities.
“First Nations Studies aspires not to be another group of western academics studying Indians,” said Lisa Poupart, associate professor of Humanistic Studies and chair of First Nations Studies at UW-Green Bay, “but a forum where traditional academic pedagogies and curricular structures can be challenged, where indigenous voices are heard, and where projects are truly responsive to indigenous needs and desires.”
In recognizing the distinctive UW-Green Bay program, System officials said “the faculty and staff of the First Nations Studies program have worked continuously over the years to provide a much-needed knowledge base regarding the traditional cultures and worldviews of indigenous people. We were also impressed with the Fusion Model you have developed to aid teachers in their efforts to educate students as to the cultural sovereignty and histories of First Nation Peoples worldwide.” The award letter said the program’s collaboration with tribal elders and community members is “especially commendable.”
For more information on First Nations Studies, visit www.uwgb.edu/fns/.