The Promise of Solutions from Increasing Diversity in Ways of Knowing

Educational Lessons from Meteorology, Ethnobotany, and Systems Ecology

Author: Amy Freitag
Volume 5, Number 1 (2014)

An artisanal net fisherman in a Kiribati lagoon. Australia is supporting several programmes in the Pacific to help protect fast depleting fish stocks.

An artisanal net fisherman in a Kiribati lagoon. Australia is supporting several programs in the Pacific to help protect fast depleting fish stocks (photo by AusAID via Flickr).

Abstract:

The number of terms used for historically unrepresented types of knowledge in environmental management is large and growing. The emphasis on these “new” perspectives reflects a shift in how society values different ways of knowing. A primary reason behind this recognition of value is that fresh perspectives off er new problem framings, approaches to solutions, and linkages to other issues. Successes in collaborating across multiple knowledge domains have yielded new medicines, culturally appropriate regulations, and a better understanding of ecological dynamics, among others. These examples show the search for creative solutions cuts across disciplines, each of which has its own priorities, values, ethical practices, and approaches to knowledge creation. This review demonstrates how systems of ecology, ethnobotany, and meteorology increase problem solving by legitimizing different ways of knowing. Pioneers in valuing nonscientific ways of knowing, they set the path forward for methods and theory used to inform research questions.



AMY FREITAG 
is an independent scholar who works on the human dimensions of ocean conservation. She is interested in how participatory science might help bridge science and conservation action and has worked with citizen science groups in California and small-scale fishermen in North Carolina to explore different models of participatory science. Find out about these research projects and her teaching and outreach at www.amyfreitag.org.

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