UW Bothell and Northwest tribal leaders consider moving classroom to the reservation

University of Washington Bothell - Contributed
University of Washington Bothell
— image credit: Contributed

University of Washington Bothell professors and representatives from more than a dozen northwest Native American tribes will convene on the Bothell campus on Aug. 21 to formalize the Tribal Education Network (T-E-N).

This initiative will allow youth to be educated on the reservation using multimedia and interactive methods, including casebook projects, which will replace classes and provide culturally relevant content through narratives and real-life cases.

Project co-director Deanna Kennedy is an assistant professor in UW Bothell’s School of Business; she is from the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma. Kennedy says this project may be the missing link to getting native youth college-ready.

“I think it is important to figure out how universities and colleges can make this material accessible to Native Americans,” she said, adding, “I don’t think they’ve been doing a very good job of it so far. The numbers of getting students from reservations to universities speaks to this.” Kennedy will work closely with William Erdly, an associate professor in the School of Science, Technology Engineering and Mathematics. Erdly has extensive experience with local tribes of Washington.

A proposed tribal advisory board will be part of the process from the beginning. The board will help set curriculum priorities and engage other tribal leaders to mentor students and become storytellers within the casebook projects.

Kennedy hopes the Tribal Education Network will eventually offer other major benefits, including career guidance, a certification program and undergraduate credits that would transfer to the UW.

For now, Kennedy anticipates first year success.

“Seeing them finish the casebook will be great,” she said. “To hear them using the information in their lives will be better.”

Kennedy says once the Tribal Education Network expands, and broadens, faculty from across all three UW campuses will be able to create casebooks on their own topics.

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