Systematic evaluation of culturally responsive schooling and anti-racism frameworks in geoscience education programs for American Indian and Alaska Native students
As the geoscience community continues to address centuries of harm to, and erasure of Indigenous communities done by scientists, educators in K-12 and higher education have new interest in "decolonizing" their curriculum, increasing their broader impact portfolios, and reaching out to indigenous communities in their area. Recruiting American Indian and Alaska Native (AIAN) students into the geosciences is also a priority. However, to recruit, and more importantly retain AIAN students, curriculum-builders and educators need guidelines about how to approach and evaluate educational programs that are either designed for AIAN students or use Indigenous knowledge or epistemologies. Specifically needed are culturally responsive programs that explicitly center AIAN epistemology, sovereignty, identity and address the racism students encounter.
We present a systematic review of publications about AIAN educational initiatives with the goal of identifying areas which need improvement or further research. Our evaluation examines the implementation of the program, its approach (i.e. if the program used AIAN ways of learning and knowing, or taught AIAN concepts in a western education framework) and if or how the program was evaluated. In building this review, we hope to highlight recommendations for future initiatives.
Preliminarily, recent initiatives, especially those lead by AIAIN scientists and faculty, avoid potential pitfalls which lead well-meaning researchers and educators to do harm. Pitfalls include challenges in working with tribal communities, historic distrust of outside researchers, concerns about appropriation, and who has access to or is given knowledge. However, most initiatives do not mention or have policies that address the racism or bias that students may encounter.