First Nations Education Doctoral Program


Course Descriptions

FNED 800: Introduction to Indigenous Education (3 credits)
This introductory course provides foundational knowledge for the doctoral program in First Nations Education. The course explores the traditional (precontact) world views of the Indigenous peoples of Turtle Island (North America) with an emphasis on the Nations now located in the western Great Lakes. The course begins with an overview of Indigenous emergence beliefs and practices. First Nations ecological knowledge is central to the course with a focus on original instructions and the traditional relationships of humans to the natural world. Intergenerational teaching and learning in the Four Hills of Life are introduced. Indigenous languages are examined throughout the class with an understanding of the relationship between language and world view. The course further examines the impact of Euro-American colonization on First Nations people, lifeways, and the environment. The impact of colonization on Indigenous social identities is explored with an examination of how colonization disrupted traditional understandings and the intersectionality of citizenship, gender, age, and ability. Decolonization is presented and explored in an effort to re-center Indigenous knowledge systems, educational practices, and ways of being to prepare the path for future generations.
FNED 802: Ancestral Ways of Leadership (3 credits)
This course in education leadership provides an in-depth examination of Indigenous governance and leadership in the tribal world.  Sovereignty is a foundational concept for this course and is presented both as a governmental principle and an individual value practiced in daily life. The course begins with a survey of the ancient and historical governing structures of Indigenous people and examines leadership in multiple forms including traditional highly structured systems like that of the Nations of the Haudenosaunee to less formalized structures like those of the Anishinaabeg band system. The course examines the impact of Euro-American colonization and assimilation on traditional forms of leadership, governance, and the erosion of tribal sovereignty. The contemporary crisis in tribal leadership today is linked to colonial domination and the subordination of traditional Indigenous structures and value systems. The study and practice of traditional leadership offers an opportunity to decolonize contemporary structures by applying and practicing the ancient values and practices of consensus, distributive leadership, conflict resolution, and inclusiveness. This course prepares students to assume balanced leadership roles within their families, communities, and Nations.
FNED 804: Indigenous Pedagogy (3 credits)
This course focuses on First Nations pedagogy as educational theory, method, and practice. Students will study and take part in Elder epistemology/Elder learning theories. Students will study the origin and nature of Indigenous knowledge systems and the processes through which Indigenous knowledge is acquired and transmitted. The epic narratives of Indigenous groups will be examined as examples of Indigenous knowledge production, critical thinking, problem solving, and praxis.  Students will read and discuss Paulo Freire’s seminal work Pedagogy of the Oppressed in order to gain a deeper understanding of critical pedagogy and the challenges of western educational structures and outcomes. The course is designed to prepare students to address persistent educational challenges facing First Nations people today including the education achievement gap, truancy, retention and graduation rates, etc. The Four Rs framework as developed and articulated by Rosemary Ackley Christensen at UW Green Bay is presented as a teaching method and practice applicable in any K-16 classroom. Thus, students will take part in Indigenous educational methods that practice the Four Rs core values of the tribal world - respect, reciprocity, responsibility, and relationship. The course is organized around the examination of four foundational questions:
  • What is Indigenous pedagogy?
  • How is Indigenous knowledge acquired and transmitted?
  • How are Indigenous teaching methods and practices applied in classrooms today?
  • How can Indigenous educational theory, method, and practice, lead to contemporary educational reform?
FNED 805: Generational Healing (3 Credits)
This is a course in health and wellness in Indigenous education. With Euro-American colonization, Indigenous people experienced trauma resulting from culmination of: disease, warfare, land loss, removals and relocations, deprivation (starvation, poverty, sexual violence, etc.), economic dependency, breakdown of ancient family structures and communities; imposition of western religion, language, healing methods, social systems, government, diet/foods; and the disconnection from the Earth and other living beings. The impact is experienced today among First Nations people, families, and communities as evidenced in social problems that were virtually non-existent in traditional times. This course explores unresolved historical grief syndrome, post-apocalyptic stress syndrome among First Nations people, and the recent scientific research on the impact of trauma on child development and learning. Students will examine the impact of trauma as those who have both experienced trauma and as agents. The course explores generational healing through the pairing of Indigenous and non-Indigenous approaches to holistic wellness.
FNED 807: Indigenous Inquiry (3 Credits)
This is a course in Indigenous research methods. The course examines the distinct concepts, thought patterns, theories, research methods, and standards of Indigenous research. Students will explore Indigenous research paradigms as grounded in knowledge that is interconnected to all living beings. Thus, the course begins with an exploration or the original forms of understanding and ways of knowing of First Nations people and an in-depth study of the origin beliefs of varied Indigenous groups. Embedded within the examination of origin beliefs is a discussion of the varied forms of original instructions given to humans regarding their purpose and place in the universe. The course is concerned with the development of Indigenous research paradigms and prepares students to apply them in academic and other professional settings. Within this approach, inquiry is examined beyond the realm of the intellect and is viewed as holistic – one that unifies, mind, matter, spirit, and emotion. The course bridges oral traditional knowledge, Elder epistemology, with practical research methods and skills. Students will collectively envision and contribute to the growing academic knowledge base defining and shaping Indigenous research paradigms. The course prepares practitioners to conduct research with integrity and humility. The course is organized around the examination of four foundational questions:
  • What are Indigenous forms of inquiry/research?
  • How do Indigenous forms of inquiry/research apply in a current contexts and practices?
  • How can western research methods be used as tools in an Indigenous context or in an indigenous research project?
  • What challenges do Western research methods pose to Indigenous inquiry and Indigenous research?
EDUC 810: Philosophical and Theoretical Foundations of Leadership in Education (3 credits)  
This interdisciplinary course is a cooperative leadership course between four UW-System Schools of Education at: Green Bay, La Crosse, Oshkosh, and Stevens Point. This course weaves together theories and practices spanning doctoral degree programs in superintendence, higher education administration, Indigenous leadership, and educational sustainability. In each of these disciplinary focuses with the common thread, leadership, this course will provide a foundation for the development of personal and professional leadership styles grounded in the evolution of leadership theory reflective of the influence of social locations and identities. Through exposure to recognized leaders in education and other fields, students will postulate what leadership principles resonate with their area of work and study. Students will engage in interdisciplinary analyses of leadership theories and philosophies, and will examine the complex ethical and professional responsibilities within the professional and community relationships.
EDUC 820: Critical Analysis of Systemic Inequity: Social Justice Education (3 Credits)
This interdisciplinary course is a cooperative leadership course between four UW-System Schools of Education at: Green Bay, La Crosse, Oshkosh, and Stevens Point.  The class provides an advanced and in-depth exploration of the issues of power and inequality in U.S. history including but not limited to racism, classism, sexism, homophobia, and linguicism. The historical survey of inequity becomes a foundation for addressing current issues from a variety of perspectives and possibilities. Key course concepts for social justice in education include cultural deficit frameworks, meritocracy, whiteness as social construct, color blindness and race neutrality, micro-aggressions, and the politics of epistemology. Students will examine historic and contemporary examples of educational institutions as mechanisms of social, political, and economic control. Examples will include U.S. American Indian boarding schools, school segregation, tracking, and vocational education. Students will engage in critical research, analysis, writing and development of programs in their field that strive to end oppressive practices and balance systemic inequities.
FNED 825: Relational Assessment (2 credits)
This course on education assessment draws upon Indigenous perspectives and prepares students to create their own assessment models based on an Indigenous paradigm. Educational assessment occurs in many forms. Educators and administrators must determine how they will use assessment as a tool for growth and change. Within any educational context key stakeholders must assess programs, departments, and student learning. The first step for each educator is to assess the educational context that they operate within. For Indigenous peoples, assessment may be bound by specific world views, historic contexts, and socio-economic conditions.  The goals of any assessment can be created within the circle of a group of stakeholders who seek achieve specific outcomes. For this course, students will develop models to assess their specific educational context both individually and as part of a team. This course is organized around the examination of four foundational questions:
  • What is the educational context of your work?
  • How does your work impact Indigenous education?
  • What is Indigenous assessment?
  • How will you assess your learning community using an Indigenous paradigm?

FNED 826: Grant Writing (1 Credit) 
This is a hands-on course in grant writing.  Developing effective grant writing skills are essential to acquire competitive funding for governmental agencies and private foundations. Writing a successful grant proposal is a blend of art and science. It requires basic knowhow, content knowledge, writing proficiency, strong research skills, creativity, and organizational ability, and networking ability.  One of the first lessons that will be learned is successful grants emerge from working effectively with others to draw out ideas, capture those ideas to create a program or a plan for research, show how the plan is what is needed to respond to the “Request for Proposals,” and package those ideas so that they make sense to the reviewers of the proposal.  Grant writing is increasingly a team activity.  Whether or not you obtain the funding is sometimes less important than the networking that you do as a part of developing a grant proposal.  We will also explore the nuances of gathering and documenting data in First Nations communities, the importance of developing culturally competent evaluations, and the need for community input during the grant writing process.  This course also provides students with the background necessary to develop a competitive funding proposal:
  • Identify possible funding sources
  • Develop initial ideas that could be the basis for a proposal
  • Components of an application
  • Strategies for developing a proposal
  • How to identify potential funding sources
  • How to read and understand grant guidelines, requests for proposals/applications (RFP/RFA)
  • Research and gathering data
  • Writing goals, objectives, and outcomes
  • Logic models
  • Create timelines
  • Program evaluation components
  • Preparation and justification of budgets
  • Cost-sharing and sub-contracts
  • Procedures for grants submission and grants start-up
  • The grant review process
  • Learn from the experience when your proposal is not funded
FNED 830: First Nations Law and Policy (3 Credits)
This course provides an in-depth study of First Nations law and federal Indian policy. The course begins with an examination of international laws of the contact era beginning with the Doctrine of Discovery and Right of Conquest. Treaty-making between the European and American government and First Nations people is examined to provide a foundation for understanding the current federal trust responsibility between tribes and the federal government. Federal Indian case law and congressional acts from the Marshall Trilogy through current rulings are examined in-depth with an emphasis on the impact of these laws and policies on First Nations people and communities. The course will also examine key policies in the history of Indian education, including: mission schools; tribally controlled schools; federal boarding schools; New Deal era reforms; public education; and self-determination.
FNED 831: Qualitative Research (2 Credits) 
This course explores a number of traditions of qualitative inquiry from both Indigenous and Western perspectives. The course begins with an overview of several methods of Western qualitative inquiry, with an emphasis on interpretive research methodologies, including interpretive phenomenology, (participatory) action research, and grounded theory. Interpretative methodologies are particularly suited to examining Indigenous ways of knowing given their reliance on narrative data and goal of interpreting the meaning-making of participants. Next, it introduces the growing body of Indigenous methods of qualitative inquiry and contrasts the two approaches. The course culminates with a research proposal where students identify a research question and select the approach most applicable to its examination while exploring potential areas for cultural bias and/or misunderstanding.
FNED 832: Program Evaluation (2 Credits)
Knowing how to work with evaluative data is essential to management of public-serving programs – to improve effectiveness, accountability, and even secure grants. This course enables students to develop a working understanding of and some key skills to conduct program evaluations and measure outcomes. Through readings, guided activities/tutorials/internet searches, and class discussions, students will learn the language and tools of the trade, including community assessment, needs assessment, process/formative evaluation, LEAN, outcome measurement, efficiency analysis, and impact evaluation. Students will learn how to identify program outcomes and set up logic models, essential skills for grant-seeking. We will discuss the political, social, and ethical considerations of conducting research in real-world settings. Cases and examples will be discussed and worked through including actual indigenous program evaluations. A highlight of the class is the opportunity for students to set up an actual comprehensive evaluation plan for an agency of their own choosing, obtain feedback, and refine the plan in preparation for actual implementation of their own evaluation.
FNED 834: Doctoral Statistics Lab (2 Credits)
This course will introduce students to statistical techniques with the intent that they will apply them to projects and classes in the Ed. D. in First Nations Education, in the careers they pursue, and in the larger communities. This class builds a bridge between indigenous perspectives and quantitative methodologies to assist students in becoming competent in understanding and interpreting statistical results presented in computer output, scholarly journals, grant applications, and authentic settings where data are presented. This course offers an approach to understanding statistics that reflects Indigenous worldviews with an emphasis on interconnection, statistics as present in the natural world, and storytelling and the oral tradition as a central element of statistical problem solving and the quantitative approach.
FNED 898: Dissertation Seminar (9 credits)
The Ed.D. in First Nations Studies culminates in the successful completion of an applied dissertation research project. This two semester course is designed for students in their third year of the program. The intent is for students to apply their prior course learning to the design of a project that makes a reciprocal contribution to their community. The course is intended to assist students with the theoretical and practical aspects of designing an applied dissertation research project, drafting a project proposal, and successfully defending the proposal. Central to the dissertation project is the development and on-going reciprocal relationship between researcher and the community. Thus, throughout the seminar, students will be working in the field, building partnerships, and collaborating to ensure that the dissertation project integrates and reflects individuals, families, organizations, communities, and Nations.   
FNED 899: Dissertation (9 credits)
Students will continue working in the field, collaborating on a dissertation project that integrates and reflects individuals, families, organizations, communities, and Nations. Students working on the dissertation project will work independently as well as meet consistently with a dissertation advisor and in small groups with other dissertators. Students will complete the dissertation project. Students will prepare to defend the dissertation project outcomes.