You are here

Harvard Forest >

Summer Research Project 2021

  • Title: Indigenous perspectives and diversifying the library at Harvard Forest
  • Group Project Leader: Danielle Ignace
  • Mentors: Danielle Ignace; Meghan MacLean; Marissa Weiss
  • Collaborators: Clarisse Hart
  • Project Description:

    Over-arching Intellectual Theme

    Current and historical records of land use and land management in New England too often exclude the voices and knowledge of Indigenous People, Black People, and People of Color. Current and historical records of land use in New England are disproportionately dominated by Western science and lacking Indigenous voices. Amplifying Indigenous voices and integrating traditional ecological knowledge with Western science in resource management and ecology, has never been more vital as the world faces the dramatic impacts of climate change. Thus, it is a defining time to diversify perspectives and voices in the forestry and land use paradigm. The goals of our project are two fold: 1) we will use meta-analysis methods to quantitatively explore studies that have successfully included both Western science and traditional ecological knowledge, with the goal of working with Indigenous communities in Massachusetts to identify areas where this integration could be most helpful in our region; and 2) identify forestry literature from scholars of color, and amplify these resources to increase representation and diversification of people and ideas in the discourse about forestry. These two projects are highly complementary, giving students the opportunity to apply an interdisciplinary approach in this group collaboration. Students will be encouraged to work with their mentors to carve out pieces of this project that align most with their interests.

    In Sub-project one, a meta-analysis of land management data from Indigenous sources, we will mentor two students to design a summer research project addressing questions such as:
    * What areas of landscape ecology research are missing/understudied from our review of the literature that integrates traditional ecological knowledge?
    * What data can be most helpful in understanding the health of ecosystems that are managed with traditional ecological knowledge?
    * What are the potential focus areas that can be identified by elders from Tribal Nations, scholars, and local Indigenous communities as most needed to help their land management efforts?
    * What framework can be developed that amplifies Indigenous knowledge and coexists with Western science in the land management paradigm?

    In Sub-project two, diversifying the forestry library, we will mentor one student to design a summer research project focused on identifying and amplifying forestry resources by BIPOC scholars, practitioners, and knowledge-holders.

    Amplifying forestry resources by BIPOC scholars, practitioners, and knowledge-holders is critical for catalyzing science that is novel, actionable, and relevant to all people and communities affected by pressing environmental challenges such as climate change.

    This project will seek to address questions such as:
    * How does diversifying voices in forestry benefit science, students, and stakeholders?
    * Does topic choice in forestry correlate with ethnic and/or racial identity? (eg. Hoppe et al. 2019 demonstrated an interaction between race and topic choice in NIH grant proposals)
    * How can we best amplify voices from underrepresented groups in the forest ecology dialogue?

    General requirements for the overall project:
    * Ability to think critically about including and lifting Indigenous voices in the land management and climate change dialogue.
    * Have or willingness to develop a basic understanding of Excel and R for graphical and statistical analysis. R training will be part of the program and supported by your mentors.
    * Participate in thoughtful and respectful discussions with individuals from diverse backgrounds and cultures.
    * Enthusiasm for collaborating in this effort to include Indigenous-led projects in the land management dialogue.
    * Enthusiasm for amplifying voices from underrepresented groups in the forest ecology literature.

  • Readings:

    St. Regis Mohawk Tribe, Climate Change Adaptation Plan for Akwesasne.

    Kimmerer, R. W. Weaving traditional ecological knowledge into biological education: A call to action. Bioscience 52, 432–438 (2002).

    Hoppe, T. A. et al. Topic choice contributes to the lower rate of NIH awards to African-American/black scientists. Sci. Adv. 5, 1–13 (2019).

  • Research Category: Historical and Retrospective Studies, Group Projects, Conservation and Management