The Kansas University Indigenous Studies department has undergone a number of changes during the last few years. It changed its name, its graduation criteria and now will add a graduate certificate.
The graduate certificate in Indigenous Studies will be available in the fall of 2013 to graduate students who have taken 12 credit hours of graduate level course work with at least eight of those hours containing content on indigenous peoples.
According to Lauren Marie Krivoshia, of the Indigenous Studies department, less than 20 universities across the country that offer similar educational opportunities for the study of native peoples.
“The idea is to provide a large variety of opportunities,” Michael J. Zogry, director of Indigenous Studies, said. “If (the students) are interested in working with Native American communities, the certificate gives them an edge.”
A vast array of affiliate professors in fields such as law, biology and linguistics, will offer classes that can go toward the certificate.
“I’m delighted that KU has this program and excited to interact with it,” said Environmental Studies professor Kelly Kindscher, who studies medical uses for native plants. Many students who take his classes will be able to put their hours toward the certificate.
“Let’s say you are interested in environmental history,” he said. “ Wouldn’t it be great to have a degree in indigenous studies?”
Zogry said the department hopes promoting intersectionality, or the crossover of academic fields, will not only help students pursue interests with Native American and indigenous cultures but also provide them with more job opportunities.
More students picking up the certificate would mean a larger exposure to indigenous cultures, an often overlooked and understudied part of American history and culture, Zogry said.
“It’s not about being politically correct, its about being as correct as possible in terms of studying these cultures,” Zogry said.