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Lessons Learned from a Geoscience Education Program in an Alaska Native Community

TitleLessons Learned from a Geoscience Education Program in an Alaska Native Community
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2013
AuthorsHugo RC, Smythe WF, McAllister SM, Young B, Maring B, Baptista AM
Journal TitleJournal of Sustainability Education
Keywordscross-cultural education, geoscience education, native pedagogy, traditional knowledge

Alaska Native communities depend on customary and traditional use of natural resources for physical, emotional and cultural sustenance, and community members are concerned about threats to local ecosystems posed by logging, mining, overharvesting, invasive species, fresh and marine water pollution, and climate change. To support one community’s efforts to address these concerns, we have developed an experiential geoscience education program for grades 5 – 12 that draws upon both western science and traditional knowledge. In this program we have found that students are best served by a pedagogy that is founded upon community partnerships, focuses on community needs, reinforces cultural traditions, and presents western science and traditional knowledge as equal and complementary bodies of knowledge. This program has contributed to an increased number of high school graduates pursuing college degrees and has been welcomed by the community as an integral component of cultural revitalization.