Infusing Traditional Knowledge and Ways of Knowing Into Science Communication Courses at the University of Hawai‘i

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Articles and Special Issues
Lemus, J. D., Seraphin, K. D., Coopersmith, A., & Correa, C. K. V. (2014). Infusing Traditional Knowledge and Ways of Knowing Into Science Communication Courses at the University of Hawai‘i. Journal of Geoscience Education, 62(1), 5-10. DOI: 10.5408/12-416.1
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We describe a philosophy and process by which cultural awareness and traditional ways of knowing were incorporated into courses on communicating ocean sciences for college and graduate students in Hawai‘i. The result is a culturally relevant framework that contextualizes the course for Hawai‘i audiences while also enabling students to better understand the host culture. We offer an overview of the similarities and differences between Western and Native Hawaiian worldviews as they relate to science, exploration, and explanation. Our approach focused on two main elements of science communication and pedagogy in Hawai‘i: (1) people and relationships, and (2) place and culture. As the foundation for all scientific endeavors— Western or Native Hawaiian—people and relationships were used as a natural and critical starting point for bringing cultural context to science education and communication. Similarly, the significance of place in Native Hawaiian and other traditional knowledge systems and the importance of allowing space for viewing science through a cultural lens were explicitly explored throughout the course. Open class discussion, understanding different cultural approaches to education, and personal interaction with Native Hawaiian scholars and experts were all important elements in students’ development of cultural awareness and sensitivity in teaching science, as evidenced by course evaluations. Although our courses focused on ocean sciences, this commentary offers ideas on how traditional ways of knowing might be incorporated into communication or education courses in any science discipline.

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This page last updated 18 May 2019 - 9:12pm