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Western Washington University introduces new Salish Sea foundational course

Student curriculum feedback session led by Lydia Dennee-Lee, student staff member at the Salish Sea Institute.

November 14, 2018

The Center for Canadian-American Studies is partnering with the Salish Sea Institute this year to develop a new Salish Sea Studies curriculum at Western Washington University (WWU). The Salish Sea is a complex ecoregion and an international body of water governed by the United States, Canada, and over 60 Tribes and First Nations. With support from our U.S. Department of Education Title VI grant and a grant from the Keta Legacy Foundation, WWU faculty are engaging in place-based curriculum design and outreach to students and community educators to gain collective input on this exciting new program.

Over the last few months, an interdisciplinary team has designed a draft syllabus for SALI 201: Introduction to the Salish Sea. Dr. Natalie Baloy (Assistant Director of WWU Canada House Programs and member of the UW-WWU Pacific Northwest National Resource Center on Canada team), Dr. Nick Stanger (WWU Environmental Studies), and Dr. Robin Kodner (WWU Biology) developed a 5-credit place-based and interdisciplinary course that will introduce students to the complex ecologies and human experiences of the Salish Sea region. A pilot course will be offered in spring 2019. Natalie is also working with an interdisciplinary team of Whatcom Community College faculty to develop a parallel course to be offered simultaneously; students and faculty from both schools will engage in shared learning activities. Consultations are underway to ensure that Indigenous educators are also involved in curriculum design and feedback.

This fall and winter, a team of students at the Salish Sea Institute is inviting the WWU student body to engage in curriculum feedback discussions. Students in SALI 497: Salish Sea Studies Community Seminar have already provided substantial input on existing courses at WWU that could be included in the minor, including many offerings from the Canadian-American Studies program. Based on student, faculty and community input so far, the four major learning domains for the introductory course and the minor will be Salish Sea histories (including Coast Salish sovereignty); Canada/US and BC/WA political and economic relationships; ecological health and restoration (including environmental policies and governance on each side of the border); and arts, storytelling, and science communication about the Salish Sea.