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Local knowledge. Environmental education training.

Discussions on local knowledge and opportunities for professional development in environmental education and communication.

(From the e-list, 14 DEC 2011. Interested in subscribing? Click here!)

Hi folks,

There are lively discussions going on this month about local and scientific knowledge, and how partnerships for public participation in scientific research can most effectively build bridges between them. It's worth a look... here are a few excerpts to whet your appetite:


"There seems to be increasing realization that the 'indigenous' view of conservation is not the same as the typical western way of looking at the need to 'preserve nature.'  To many aboriginal communities, there is no separation between people and nature - the land, the organisms in it and the way that they act upon it cannot be separated and reduced in the way that western science tends to do. " (Anne Toomey, discussion co-host)

"Recently, we assessed the various methods used for supporting collaboration between local and scientific knowledge in those PPSR contexts in developing countries where the aim is to create sustainable and resilient livelihoods by improving natural resource management. ... This led us to propose five non-exclusive, generic methods that seem suitable: Patrol records. Transects. Species lists. Photography. Village group discussions." (Finn Danielsen, citing lit review work published in

"Local people may tend to be more understanding of longitudinal comparisons (changes over time) than cross-community comparisons. Local community members are also more likely to be concerned with holistic solutions to their issues more than generating generalizable findings." (Jonathan Long, commenting on the way experimental design can affect the relevance of projects to communities)

Participation has spanned the globe, with conversations about methods, assessment tools, and models of knowledge. Most recently, the discussion has turned to asking, "What kind of ‘cultural competence’ is needed to facilitate collaboration between different kinds of knowledge, and how can we continue to learn and grow and gain such competence?" Your thoughts are encouraged!

I wanted to also pass along two environmental education, online professional development opportunities gleaned from the most recent Nation Association for Environmental Education listserv. First, the Duke Environmental Leadership Program is offering a six week course entitled Environmental Communication for Behavior Change. From their course description, "This course provides environmental professionals with a practical introduction to the strategies, methods, and tools of environmental communication that effectively lead to changes in behavior," (note request for enrollment by December 16th).

Also, the Cornell University Civic Ecology Lab is hosting a online course throughout the spring semester entitled Environmental Education in Urban Communities. "This 12-week, non-credit professional development course will cover novel practices and conceptual frameworks for urban environmental education." The course is open to educators throughout North America; apply by January 22nd.

More citizen science news in the new year... happy holidays!

Jennifer and the team

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