UAS Scholar Dr. Tom Thornton and Alaska Natives Featured in New Handbook of Indigenous Environmental Knowledge
This volume provides an overview of key themes in Indigenous Environmental Knowledge (IEK) and anchors them with brief but well-grounded empirical case studies of relevance for each of these themes, drawn from bioculturally diverse areas around the world.
Date of Press Release: December 15, 2020
Dr. Tom Thornton, dean of the school of arts and sciences at the University of Alaska Southeast (UAS) recently published the Routledge Handbook of Indigenous Environmental Knowledge, along with Dr. Shonil Bhagwat of the School of Social Sciences and Global Studies at the Open University in the United Kingdom. This volume provides an overview of key themes in Indigenous Environmental Knowledge (IEK) and anchors them with brief but well-grounded empirical case studies of relevance for each of these themes, drawn from bioculturally diverse areas around the world. It provides an incisive, cutting-edge overview of the conceptual and philosophical issues, while providing constructive examples of how IEK studies have been implemented to beneficial effect in ecological restoration, stewardship, and governance schemes.
Collectively, the chapters in the Routledge Handbook of Indigenous Environmental Knowledge cover Indigenous Knowledge not only in a wide range of cultures and livelihood contexts, but also in a wide range of environments, including drylands, savannah grassland, tropical forests, mountain landscapes, temperate and boreal forests, Pacific and Indian Ocean islands, and coastal environments. The chapters discuss the complexities and nuances of Indigenous cosmologies and ethno-metaphysics and the treatment and incorporation of IEK in local, national, and international environmental policies. Taken together, the chapters in this volume make a strong case for the potential of Indigenous Knowledge in addressing today’s local and global environmental challenges, especially when approached from a perspective of appreciative inquiry, using cross-cultural methods and ethical, collaborative approaches which limit bias and inappropriate extraction of IEK.
The book is a guide for graduate and advanced undergraduate teaching, and a key reference for academics in development studies, environmental studies, geography, anthropology, and beyond, as well as anyone with an interest in Indigenous Environmental Knowledge.
Thornton serves as the UAS Dean of Arts and Sciences and is also the Vice-Provost for Research and Sponsored Programs. He was previously Associate Professor at the Environmental Change Institute, School of Geography and the Environment, University of Oxford, UK. Bhagwat is Professor of Environment and Development, and Head of the School of Social Sciences and Global Studies at the Open University, UK. His research focuses on the links between environment and development in the context of global challenges.
Thornton remarked, “Shonil Bhagwat and I started putting this book together several years ago, having worked together previously on projects related to Indigenous knowledge, climate change and biodiversity issues. We realized that there was a lot of good work being done around the world and a desire on the part of researchers and laypersons alike to better understand the field as it is developing. This includes practitioners seeking to better engage with Indigenous Environmental Knowledge, collaborative methods, and rights in the policy realm. Hence the handbook format. Several of the contributions draw from Alaska and the Pacific Northwest.
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University of Alaska Southeast