Transcending Barriers to Success: Connecting Indigenous and Western Knowledge
The National Center for Science and Civic Engagement (NCSCE) at Stony Brook University has received a grant from the W.M. Keck Foundation 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. The project will extend the successful Hawai’i SENCER State strategy to Alaska and four state pilots. Local environmental and health issues will provide context for inquiry-based learning that transcends perceived conflicts between indigenous, local, and “Western” knowledge systems.
SENCER (Science Education for New Civic Engagements and Responsibilities), which connects civic issues to STEM content, encourages the incorporation of different perspectives, pushes students to critically analyze preconceptions, and actively engages learners in authentic research.
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.
Project Pilot Goals, Funding, and Eligibility
Funding for pilot projects is intended to support the development of mutually beneficial relationships that will last beyond the project period and support student success and healthy environments and communities. Pilot teams are expected to modify at least one course using one of the following themes: (1) conservation and cultural perpetuation, (2) water, or (3) food and health.
Recipients of Pilot Project awards will receive a total of $6,000 for course modification in years 2 and 3. Additional funds are reserved from the main grant to NCSCE for travel to the launch meeting in year 1, the capstone meeting in year 3, and project dissemination opportunities in year 2.
Applications for pilot projects will beaccepted from accredited colleges and universities, as well as informal education venues, in WA, OR, CA, ID, NV, MT, WY, UT, AZ, NM, CO, KS, OK, TX,LA, and MS. Two ofthe four awards will be designated for teams from tribal colleges oruniversities.
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