Wolves, Ptarmigan, and Lake Trout: Critical Elements of a Northern Canadian Place-Conscious Pedagogy

Morton Asfeldt, Ingrid Urberg, Bob Henderson

Abstract


This paper explores the pedagogical benefits of combining remote winter wilderness travel and homestead living with reading, writing, and listening to personal narratives from the expedition region. A co-taught interdisciplinary university course will be used as a case study to demonstrate the ways in which this approach aids in developing place-consciousness—an awareness of storied landscapes—as well as the skills and mentality required for directly living with the land. It is our hope that the interdisciplinary content and experiential pedagogy employed in this course will enable students to re-establish vital relationships with nature that have been lost in our increasingly urban and technologically dominated lives. We will also discuss the use of uncommon and potentially controversial practices in our program such as fishing and hunting for food, and observing the skinning of wolves, that we believe are important elements of becoming genuinely place-conscious in the region of the Canadian north we study and visit. Tensions between our stated philosophies and actual practices are also revealed and examined.

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