• Larry White

The underlying duty of instructional design and curriculum development

Good for Canadian medical students!


Following a recent comprehensive study and series of media stories, such as the one appearing in Times Colonist on January 11, 2020, the Canadian Federation of Medical Students argues that "climate change is inextricably linked to public health" and calls on schools across Canada to weave the health of our planet and climate change into and across all medical curricula.


This is something for which I have long advocated.


In the past, I've always spoken about developing curriculum for programs/courses with their defined program/course learning outcomes PLUS underlying thematic outcomes that address climate change, corporate social responsibility, cultural awareness and inclusivity, and indigenous ways of knowing and being.


Much as the argument has been made that we can no longer separate environment from the economy in political discourse, I believe that we can no longer separate discipline-specific curriculum from the planet on which it resides. The time is right now, if not already past, for the entire academic community to step, collectively, on a path toward graduating students who are both experts in their respective fields AND who have a good sense of their place in the world around them and their responsibility to protecting that place.


For example, in recent work I completed for a Canadian college in the development of two online workshops, part of a series of workshops intended to help Canadians who are unemployed or underemployed prepare for the changing nature of work in the future, students begin by exploring climate change as a global trend that is affecting and changing jobs in Canada and, therefore, affecting and changing the manner in which they need to search for work or future-proof their careers.


We must be overt in our actions and purpose. Academic planning, instructional design and curriculum development practices must change. As the creators of learning for citizens of the future, it is our obligation to ensure that learners receive an education that is professional, meaningful, insightful and responsible. Indeed, it is our duty.


Come on, academia! Let’s get this right!

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