A new minor titled “Indigenous Studies in Natural Resources and the Environment” (INRE) became available to students at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, California, in the fall of 2013. This minor aims to bring together the principles of both Indigenous ecological knowledge and western science. Instruction in these two approaches provides students with practical knowledge, research, and critical thinking skills to address complex environmental issues and natural resources management problems facing both Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities around the world today. The INRE minor seeks to prepare students by providing a balanced education in the arts, sciences, and technology, while encouraging interdisciplinary and co-curricular activities. This article reports on the need for the INRE minor, learning outcomes, curriculum, approval process, student interest surveys, and enrolled INRE students' focus group comments. This program may serve as a model for other academic institutions to bridge the gap between western and Indigenous science regarding the environment.

Management and Policy Implications: Society of American Foresters members are called to abide by a Code of Ethics10 whose first Principle and Pledge states: “Foresters have a responsibility to manage land for current and future generations. We pledge to practice and advocate management that will maintain the long-term capacity of the land to provide the variety of materials, uses, and values desired by landowners and society.” How can foresters and land managers achieve this pledge? Integration of Indigenous and western science into university curricula and professional disciplines could lead to enhanced collaboration and stewardship of public and tribal lands. Cal Poly's new Indigenous Studies in Natural Resources and the Environment (INRE) minor works to foster communication and collaboration across academic disciplines and programs by helping people better understand and respect the land, natural resources, and ecosystems. By presenting the INRE minor design and its learn-by-doing approach to resolving land, forest, and natural resource conflicts, we hope other academic institutions will use this program as a model to bridge the gap between western science and Indigenous knowledge of the environment, as well as to instill in the next generations of foresters a broader resource and land ethic.


Ethnic Studies

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The definitive version is available at http://dx.doi.org/10.5849/jof.15-090.



URL: https://digitalcommons.calpoly.edu/eth_fac/24