Equitable Education For ALL: Re-Imagining (Geo)Science Education Practices By Acknowledging The Importance Of Cultural Identity In Science

Tuesday 4:30pm-5:45pm Tate B50
Plenary Talk


Wendy Todd, University of Minnesota-Duluth

Representation of diverse scholars, specifically Indigenous, in geoscience is critically low highlighting the crucial need for new and innovative approaches to diversify the field. This can be done by providing equitable education opportunities for all students by re-imagining science learning and by dismantling practices that contribute to cultural erosion and extraction of intellectual property. Addressing persistent barriers such as access and availability of resources, representation of diverse scholars to establish and affirm students' sense of self, and by providing safe spaces has the potential to transform all science fields. Even so, actions with genuine meaning and intention must be taken, to build trust, security, and respect. This provides opportunity for institutions to foster a culturally robust science community that emphasizes awareness of cultural and intersectional knowledges, languages, and worldviews to create equitable and welcoming environments by establishing new culturally inclusive policies and protocols. We will discuss factors that impact retention of Indigenous students and examine strategies to improve retention, such as Traditional Knowledge systems, cultural responsibility, deficit-asset based language, allyship, and by addressing the four elements of: Identity, Belonging, Place, and Security. Examples of effective strategies will be presented across local, regional, and national scales by examining local geoscience programs within her own tribal community; regionally through an REU program that engages in geoscience research, education, and policy to align and braid Traditional Knowledge with Western science providing innovative culturally aligned research experiences; and nationally through the Indigenous Geoscience Community to establish a network of Indigenous geoscientists coming together to share cross cultural knowledges in a relational framework, such that knowledges can be shared without disciplinary boundaries in an ethical and respectful way.