Worlds within/still a world without: Indigenous cosmology and diversity in higher education A case study
AuthorJohnson, Melissa Ann
AdvisorRhoades, Gary D.
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractThis study reconceptualized multiculturalism in higher education, extending beyond the parameters of representation to examine cosmological paradigms; whether Western cosmological norms are dominant in higher education, mitigating alternative cosmological paradigms and their contributions towards equity and social reform. Indigenous cosmology is used to analyze the experience of individuals within an institutional context. Indigenous cosmology was identified as a holistic approach to self, (affective, cognitive, physical, spiritual) within matrices of inclusion, consensus, community and horizontal rather than hierarchical structures. Theoretical frameworks derived predominantly from Fourth World Theory; positing the cultures of Aboriginal or Native peoples constitute the Fourth World. A case study of a community college used qualitative methods; semi-structured interviews and document analysis. Interviews were collected through purposive sampling, providing a longitudinal perspective from individuals at the college for 30 years or more. The final sample comprised 21 individuals and two groups ranging across strata to include staff, faculty, administrators and Chancellors. Data derived from respondent's narratives of inclusion, autonomy, respect, and whether a humane working environment existed wherein they were treated as valuable resources. Thirty-seven years of institutional documents were coded into four categories of diversity; (1) philosophical; (2) representational; (3) Environmental; (4) Organizational. The trajectory of institutional experience reveals an initial phase marked by innovation and inclusion with participatory leadership in the 1960s. The final phase is marked by the strong reliance on strategic planning in higher education, managerial theories in general and the rise of academic capitalism and the market model of education, respondents spoke of being strained, overworked, undervalued and working in a predatory environment. Findings revealed that representation is not the sum total of diversity. Inclusion within the system as it now stands does not achieve equity or equitable conditions. The structures and institutions inherent in western cosmology work against equity and emancipatory praxis for all, not just historically under represented constituencies. Despite the critical importance of representational parity, efforts concentrating solely on that aspect of diversity do not abrogate structural toxicity that depersonalizes and dehumanizes. Removing conceptual fetters allows diversity emancipatory meaning and healing possibilities for all members of our society.
Degree ProgramGraduate College