Situating Critical Indigenous Worldview within Western Academic Traditions: Place-Based and Culturally-relevant Science Education for Human Empowerment and Environmental Sustainability

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Virginia Tech


Learning to value ourselves as uniquely endowed, understanding our irreplaceable fit into the social and environmental fabric, and becoming active agents woven into our communities will maximize our capacity for progressive change through empowerment. There are effective practices in orchestrating learning environments for empowerment that have ancient and proven roots but have become marginalized in contemporary education. These ways focus on fostering the development of unique gifts and group cohesion, as opposed the fostering of independence and competition, the latter being two ideologies not found in Nature when it is in balance and harmony. This reversal in paradigm will reclaim our ability to critically problem-solve and evoke transformative action by increasing the diversity of perspectives and talents focused on an endeavor. Central to this research is an exploration of the strategization involved in supporting cultural, cognitive, and creative capital—the gifts endowed to humankind that enable our co-evolution with this specific regions of this planet. This research explores methods not only of maintaining the integrity of Indigenous voice through the process of research and reporting but also of using science as a tool for building community through a sense of critical Indigenous identity. It is my hope that the data contained in this research will serve as a relevant, without being transferable, model of progressive educational approaches to ameliorate science education on a local, national, and global scale.



Indigenous worldview, science education, place-based education, critically-oriented education, culturally-relevant education, sustainability education