Speakers to explore indigenous research approaches

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Joe Schwartz

The spring 2015 Engaged Cornell Speaker Series on indigenous approaches to research will bring three service-learning scholars, educators and practitioners to Cornell to discuss a diverse range of perspectives through dialogues and workshops for faculty, students, staff and community members.

The series, founded to advance the Cornell community’s knowledge, skills and understanding of community-engaged learning and research, is a collaboration among the Public Service Center, Engaged Learning + Research and the Office of Academic Diversity Initiatives.

Karim-Aly Kassam, international professor of environmental and indigenous studies in the Department of Natural Resources and American Indian Program at Cornell, will speak on “How Do We Teach Students to Speak Truth to Power Thoughtfully and With Humility and Grace? Engendering a New Generation of Public Intellectuals,” Friday, Feb. 6, noon to 1:30 p.m. in Room 423 of the ILR Conference Center.

Kassam’s international research focuses on the complex connectivity of human and environmental relations, addressing indigenous ways of knowing, food sovereignty, sustainable livelihoods and climate change. Kassam investigates the relationship between biological and cultural diversity to expand the foundations of the notion of pluralism. Recently, Kassam has undertaken research in Central Asia on livelihood security, ecological foundations of pluralism, adaptation to climate change and health sovereignty through the use of medicinal plants.

In his talk, Kassam will draw on human ecological research undertaken among indigenous communities in the circumpolar Arctic, the Northern Forest and the Pamir Mountains of Afghanistan and Tajikistan, and he will suggest key pedagogical principles that facilitate public scholarship.

“Public scholarship cannot be an occasional activity undertaken by the professor but must be integrated into teaching pedagogy and applied research methods; thereby, illustrating to undergraduate and graduate students alike that it is the cornerstone of intellectual life in democratic society,” Kassam said.

Virginia Kennedy, M.A. ’09, Ph.D. ’13, executive director of the Otsego Land Trust, will speak on “Living Conservation Values: Re-Connecting to the Lands and Waters That Sustain Us,” Friday, March 13, noon to 2 p.m. in 102 Mann Library.

Kennedy studied English and American Indian studies at Cornell, where her research focused on environmental ethics. Through Cornell’s American Indian Program, she has traveled to Native and non-Native communities around the U.S. to explore different cultural approaches to protecting land and water.

“No human being can live without healthy land, clean water and the diversity of life that thrives on this planet,” said Kennedy. “Taking care of what takes care of us makes practical sense, and maybe more than that for me, morally and spiritually, it’s just the right thing to do.”

Alvin W. Yeo will speak on “Engaged Learning in ICT [information and communications technology] for Development in Malaysian Borneo: Reflections and Lessons Learnt Employing a Systemic, Holistic, Interdisciplinary and Participatory (SHIP) Approach,” Friday, April 24, from noon to 2 p.m. in Room 423 Mann Library.

Yeo is director of the Institute of Social Informatics and Technological Innovations (ISITI) and is a professor of Information Systems at the Faculty of Computer Science and Information Technology in UNIMAS, Malaysian Borneo. He works in the field of information and communications technologies for rural development and has been involved in more than 40 research and development projects to bring about socio-economic development in Malaysia.

Yeo will explore using information and communication technologies for development as well as his experiences with ISITI and UNIMAS, and the SHIP approach in developing engaged learning with the indigenous communities. 


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