Welcome to the Center for Cross-Cultural Studies
Our mission at the Department of Cross-Cultural Studies is the improvement of educational and professional development opportunities for rural Alaskans. We also serve as a forum for the examination of cross-cultural and Indigenous education and community development issues across the state, as well as the globe.
Through the interests of our students, our goal is to provide technical support and information to school districts, Native corporations, tribal governments, community organizations, and state and federal agencies serving Indigenous communities. Our Indigenous PhD program is the highest Native Studies degree granting program in the state and combined with our Cross-Cultural MA program, we work hard to increase the recognition of Indigenous scholarship across a range of academic disciplines to best serve our students.
The Alaska Native Knowledge Network is a unique resource maintained through the Center for Cross-Cultural Studies for our students and the communities they serve.
As I am sure many of you are aware, the University of Alaska Fairbanks is going through a major re-organization process, and along with that ANKN and the Center for Cross-Cultural Studies have also undergone some big changes.
Through the early 2000s the program was well funded through external grants. We had a large budget and a core set of faculty to grow our amazing graduate programs. ANKN initially developed as a resource for those students, but quickly grew to serve local communities both in Alaska and the wider world. At that point we were able to fund a relatively large publishing infrastructure—both in print and via the Alaska Native Knowledge Network webpage—to share and celebrate the work of our students and faculty.
Through the first half of the 2010s our budget shrank, as did our support staff. We also experienced a series of leadership changes at the departmental level as Oscar passed, Ray began the retirement process, and Sean moved onto the School of Education. The university’s budget issues deepened as well during this period; however, their support—and here a sincere thank you is warranted to the College of Liberal Arts, and Dean Sherman in particular—has not wavered. So now, despite all these internal changes, as well as external financial pressures, the department and ANKN are on as secure an institutional footing as any group at the University can reasonable expect in the current budgetary climate.
Some things are different however, and the department is leaner than it was before but building from our strong history. As of this year, we have four fulltime Center for Cross-Cultural Studies faculty. Theresa Arevgaq John and Mike Koskey remain as our most senior faculty while Polly Hyslop and me are have just been hired this year and last, respectively. Student interest in our graduate programs continues to expand and we are each truly excited to be teaching and developing new courses to meet the changing needs of our students. We are VERY excited about this! In the last two years, when nearly every other department on campus has lost faculty, we have gained two! This academic energy is the engine behind ANKN!
Unfortunately, the publishing infrastructure of ANKN has taken a bit of a hit. We have lost support staff and importantly the managing role at ANKN has been reorganized from a unique, fulltime position, to be included as part our faculty service responsibilities. I’m honored to fill that role in the department, but recognize that to do it correctly, I need to change some of the behind-the-scenes virtual infrastructure at ANKN to streamline the process of maintaining, developing, and sharing our resources.
One of the major changes you will notice is our new ANKN webpage. The old site is great, and we have all grown accustom to finding specific resources on it, but the way people share information on the web has changed since its original design, and our content has out grown it. This Youtube video explains in more detail some of the new features.
The old website is still available, but it is no longer being actively maintained as we convert to the new site. We REALLY want your help in this process. Many of you have longstanding relationships with the content on the old site. We want to honor that and make sure that the materials that are important to you are transferred in the most meaningful way. To do that 1) please, please e-mail me directly (rehum@Alaska.edu) and let me know what resources are most key to you, and 2) throughout the new webpage you will find forms that ask for your specific input for that particular part of the page. Please, please go explore the new site and fill out the forms and share your thoughts with me so I can help make the page what you need it to be! Some of you have already contacted me with things you would like to see on the new page—thank you! I know I am taking a LONG time to make those changes, and I would just like to ask for patience. I will get there. ;-)
Okay, last thing, the webpage is just one of the many changes you might notice around the Center for Cross-Cultural Studies and ANKN; this slightly longer video describes in greater detail the broader communication strategy we are working from to guide them.