NCSCE “Transcending Barriers to Success”

The National Center for Science and Civic Engagement (NCSCE) at Stony Brook University has received a grant to establish and advance robust partnerships between indigenous peoples and local formal and informal educators to improve educational outcomes for all students, promote cultural understanding, and foster long-term collaborations on issues of common concern. Local environmental and health issues will provide context for inquiry-based learning that transcends perceived conflicts between indigenous, local, and “Western” knowledge systems.

Transcending Barriers to Success: Connecting Indigenous and Western Knowledge at NAU

Dr. Denielle Perry, Assistant Professor, School of Earth Sciences & Environmental Sustainability,  and Dr. PennElys Droz, Ecological Designer/Builder, Sustainable Nations Development Project

To build a sustainable future, we must integrate Indigenous and Western Knowledge.  Our project centers on integrating Indigenous building and ethnobotanical knowledge with permaculture methods, in the construction of a permanent sustainable building demonstration structure and teaching garden on the Northern Arizona University (NAU) campus for healthy and resilient communities. These experiential learning exhibits will be incorporated into the curriculum of classes in the School of Earth & Sustainability. In the SSLUG Garden,  students, faculty, staff, and community partners will get hands-on training in construction and gardening techniques. We partner with tribal experts and the Sustainable Nations Development Project to leverage and integrate indigenous knowledge into sustainable design.

Cultural collaboration is not merely the awareness of traditions other than one’s own. It requires a deep understanding of and appreciation for the strengths that multiple perspectives bring to solving the complex, contested issues facing all communities. This includes recognizing the impact of past injustices and conflicts that indigenous people have experienced as well as a grounding in the cultural connections of relationships with the environment, traditions, and sacred spaces. More about Sustainable Nations here: Sustainable Nations