Diversifying Astronomy: Introducing Indigenous astronomy and sky lore into the astronomy classroom

Diversifying Astronomy: Introducing Indigenous astronomy and sky lore into the astronomy classroom

Hilding Neilson, Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics, Faculty of Arts and Science

Abstract

The night sky belongs to everyone, all cultures view the sky and learn about the Universe and nature from their observations. We propose to explore and compile astronomical knowledge from Indigenous groups from Canada and internationally to develop new teaching modules and learning experiences that can be used in courses across the astronomy and astrophysics program at the University of Toronto. Currently,  there is no Indigenous astronomy/sky knowledge in our astronomy courses. With about 3000 students  enrolled in astronomy courses every year, there is a tremendous opportunity to present Indigenous perspectives of the sky and science. In collaboration with members of the Centre for Indigenous Studies, we will develop a methodology to incorporate Indigenous knowledge into our astronomy courses while honouring Indigenous cultures and peoples. This methodology will serve as a framework
for incorporating Indigenous sciences into other science disciplines at the University of Toronto. These learning modules will be developed by compiling sources and interviews with local First Nation elders and educators and will be made freely available and jointly maintained by the Department of Astronomy & Astrophysics and the Centre for Indigenous Studies. From these interviews, we will develop new Planetarium shows, scholarly works, and course material. Based on the outcomes of this program, we will subsequently consider the possibility of creating a new  Indigenous Astronomy Course at the University of Toronto.