Environmental Education through Native American Lenses

Instructor Name: 
Judy BlueHorse Skelton
Course Description: 

For millennia the world’s Indigenous Peoples have acted as guardians of the web of life for the following seven generations. They have successfully managed complex reciprocal relationships between diverse biological ecosystems and multitudinous human cultures.  Awareness of Indigenous Knowledge is reemerging…” Original Instructions: Indigenous Teachings for a Sustainable Future, 2008.

What are Native American perspectives and how can they affect/inform environmental education? How does environment shape our lives and our relationships? How does your own heritage impact who you are today?

Environmental education in schools has focused primarily on scientific analysis and social policy. Neglected in this education is recognition of deeper cultural transformations that may need to accompany a shift to a more bio-culturally sustainable world. During our time spent in class and outdoors in natural areas, we will explore relationship-building, creative place-based projects, and analysis of current issues facing environmental education and Native American communities. Using all our senses, we will taste, feel, smell, see and express our relationship to the world around us. We will also contemplate our choices for interacting with the world around us in the future. Students will further develop their own skills and understanding for incorporating into a final class project and in their everyday lives.

Project Description: 

Students will have the opportunity to work on or complete one or more of several projects: samples from previous class projects will be shared in class. For a 6 credit course, students are expected to meet an average of 3 hours a week outside of regular class times to plan and implement their class projects.

The final paper is a chance for you to reflect, synthesize and share your experiences and teachings from this term.  Please compose a 6-page, double-spaced paper. You may hand-write a 10-page paper if your handwriting is clear and legible.

Please cover the following:

  • What is the meaning of “environmental education” to you today?
  • Discuss the environmental education you experienced in this class and how it influences your relationship with two or more of the following: people, earth, water, water animals, plants, trees, many-legged animals, winged animals, winds & weather, four directions, moon, sun, stars, ancestors, future generations, the Great Mystery, beyond… If you have not been influenced, discuss this.
  • Which of the Native American perspectives we read about, discussed and/or experienced in class made an impression on you? Why? How? Feel free to mention more than one.  Please refer to the specific article, discussion or experience in the paper.