The W. M. Keck Foundation recently awarded a grant to NCSCE to support Transcending Barriers to Success: Connecting Indigenous Knowledge to Science. The three-year project will establish and advance robust partnerships between indigenous populations 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 extends the Hawai’i SENCER State strategy to Alaska and four state pilot programs. Seventy-five formal educators and administrators will partner with 37 native community leaders and 120 informal educators to deepen collaborations and embed programs that advance STEM learning and community engagement.
Dr. Eliza Reilly, NCSCE Executive Director and Research Professor at Stony Brook University, leads the project as Principal Investigator. Co-Principal Investigators include Dr. Lawrence Duffy (University of Alaska Fairbanks), Dr. Robert Franco (Kapiolani Community College), and Dr. Ulla Hasager (University of Hawaii at Manoa). Dr. Amy Shachter of Santa Clara University will chair the project Advisory Board, which will include members from formal education, informal education, and indigenous communities. Kyle Simmons (NCSCE), Danielle Kraus Tarka (NCSCE), and Kelly Uchiumi (Santa Clara University) will support the national and regional aspects of the project. NCSCE will leverage its national community of professional transformation to support professional development to create lasting institutional change and community partnerships, offering meetings, webinars, videoconferences, and additional resources.
Local environmental and health issues will provide context for inquiry-based learning that transcends perceived conflicts between local tradition and scientific ways of thinking. In the first year, courses will focus on conservation and cultural perpetuation. In the second year, water will be the linking issue, and the third year will focus on food and health. As courses are revised, materials, including course models, teaching guides, and interactive media, will be published. Posters on ‘Engaging Communities’ will be shared locally to encourage additional participation. Teams of educators, administrators, informal educators, and community leaders from both Alaska and Hawaii will be part of statewide efforts to launch revised courses. Additionally, four pilot projects to address two courses each will be funded following a competitive application process this fall. Please check the eNews or the NCSCE website in August for details on how to apply.
Overall, 41 courses will be revised to connect content to civic issues and indigenous knowledge, 990 students will be reached, and models of courses, partnerships, and professional development offerings will be disseminated nationally. The campus-community partnerships will be developed specifically to last beyond the project period as a necessary, mutually beneficial collaboration for the success of all students, health of the community, and care of the shared environment.