A Two-Eyed Seeing Approach to Business Studies … what does that look like?

Someone asked me the other day if we use a Two-Eyed Seeing approach to business research and education.  My gut reaction was to say “Yes.” But the easy response would be to say, “No, Business isn’t the same as science, it’s just business. You either accept its basic principles or you reject them but there’s little room for interpretation.”  That’s closed minded, and dare I say, a lazy response.  However, to be honest, I think I only respond yes because I’ve actually been pondering the applicability of the model to business education for a while now.

Two-Eyed Seeing is the Guiding Principle brought into the Integrative Science co-learning journey by Mi’kmaw Elder Albert Marshall in collaboration with Dr. Cheryl Bartlett. You can read about their journey in detail at the website for the Institute of Integrative Science and Health. (http://www.integrativescience.ca/) But I’ve been around CBU enough to at least be aware that their vision of Two-Eyed Seeing is more than just science; it’s about sharing knowledge, exploring different ideas, and looking at everything though the eyes of tradition and modern reality simultaneously.  There is a call to action in this model:  We must continue to deepen our understanding of the Indigenous and Western ways of knowing. We must find and better understand the common ground that exists between the two, but find and respect the differences as well.

There is also a second call to action, which Albert Marshall shared at an Elders’ Mawio’mi, “…young people today have not had the same opportunities that we’ve had to be well-grounded into the culture – well-grounded into the natural world – the knowledge they currently possess is not exclusively from their First Nations teachings.” (http://www.apcfnc.ca/en/economicdevelopment/resources/finalreport-honouringtraditionalknowledge.pdf ) He then went on to say that we have to show them how to apply all of their knowledge in our modern-day societies. We have to help them see that it is perfectly alright to be a First Nations person in 2010 and that the knowledge that our ancestors have left with us is just as relevant today as it was in the past.

I see both of these requests as foundational to our work with the Crawford Chair. Through the Research activities we’re comparing and contrasting the modern application of business models in Indigenous Communities. We are also sharing what we learn with others in various ways so the learning and discussion can continue. Through Student Mentorship In.Business activities we’re supporting (face-to-face and virtually)students who want to learn about business without sacrificing their cultural connections and identity. Yes, they have to learn the fundamentals of business, but they also have to learn how those basic business principles are, have been, and can be applied in their communities and by their people. I think even our Elders would agree that there are lots of good things in our modern reality. There are business models that reflect and improve our lives for the good, but there are also the not-so-good too. Our challenge is to be aware the presence of both, and to strive to find the best of both sets of knowlege for the good of people living in 2014 and as well our future generations. 

– Mary Beth Doucette