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A look at indigenous and Western science collaboration

A panel will explore what Western science can learn from indigenious cultures about managing natural resources and solving environmental problems at the 2013 Annual Meeting in Boston.

During the AAAS 2013 Annual Meeting in Boston, there will be a whirlwind of speakers and presentations to see. One presentation is a panel of speakers and discussants that will address and talk about what's at the intersection of indigenous and Western sciences, how they relate, and how they can benefit each other.

AAASMC talked with AAAS members Eric Jolly of Science Museum of Minnesota, who is one of the discussants, and the organizer, Campbell-Kibler Associates Pat Campbell, who gave a brief overview of what to expect from this discussion.

AAAS Member Central: What can the attendees expect to hear about during the presentation and discussion?
Eric Jolly of Science Museum of Minnesota and Pat Campbell of Campbell-Kibler Associates:
 First let me invite you and your readers to attend our panel, Indigenous and Western Science: Collaborating for Better Research and Education which will be held Friday February 15th at 10:00 in Room 207 of the Hynes Convention Center in Boston. At the session, attendees will hear from Dr. Linda Different Cloud-Jones how culturally important plant restoration heals communities, motivates youth, and solidifies connections between native and Western Science. They will also learn from Terry Tatsey how traditional views of the physical sciences were used in harvesting buffalo and from Sean Chandler how Aaniiih and Nakoda cultural perspectives have been infused in environmental research.

Underlying the presentations and discussions is the assumption that native and Western sciences both seek to understand nature, although their methods are quite different, and that native methods with their core assumption that all things are related and all things are connected, can contribute insights and new ideas, to Western science and strategies to manage natural resources and solve environmental problems.

Productive collaborations exist between Western and native scientists in environmental research, land use, geographic information science, and hydrology yet too often research has been done on indigenous communities not with them. Traditional knowledge has not been valued and science education for indigenous youth has not included the methods and traditions of native sciences. 

AAAS MC: What points do you plan to bring up during the presentation?
As the discussant, I won't be bringing up points as much as I will be reflecting on the points Mr. Chandler, Dr. Different Cloud-Jones and Mr. Tatsey raise as they discuss how, in their three tribal colleges, Western and native sciences are woven together in research and in teaching. 

AAASMC: How do you think that the information brought up in the discussion will impact educational facilities (i.e. museums, libraries, schools of all levels)?
Jolly and Campbell: 
The information can impact educational faculties by broadening the areas, range and style of research they do and hopefully creating greater acceptance for these alternative methodologies in setting a research agenda a funding agenda for the research and ways for this type of work be considered in tenure and promotion decisions.

AAASMC: In that vein, how do you think students, faculty and administration of the various facilities can do to work together?
Jolly and Campbell:
 Presenters will demonstrate several different ways in which partnerships can be formed to allow equal contributions to a research agenda with broader research questions incorporating the knowledge and methods of both traditions.

AAASMC: What would you like the take home message for the attendees to be?
Jolly and Campbell: 
Our hope is that attendees will leave the session with more knowledge and understanding of the methods, values and history native science and how a combination of Western and native science can make better science. To quote the UNESCO World Conference on Science for the 21stCentury, we want them to leave understanding that: "Traditional and local knowledge systems, as dynamic expressions of perceiving and understanding the world, can make, and historically have made, a valuable contribution to science and technology."

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A panel will explore what Western science can learn from indigenious cultures about managing natural resources and solving environmental problems at the 2013 Annual Meeting in Boston.
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