NATIVE SCIENCE: AN INTRODUCTORY CLASS COMBINING INDIGENOUS STORIES AND ART WITH WESTERN SCIENCE OBSERVATION TO TEACH EARTH SYSTEMS TO ALL MAJORS
Native Science and Earth Systems (GEOL 1034) is a non-majors science elective with a laboratory component that satisfies the general education requirement for science with lab elective at the University of Oklahoma. This class was originally team-taught by geology, meteorology, and geography professors, without a laboratory component. Each professor would focus on their discipline while imbuing scientific processes with Native American scientific views, artwork, and legends. This class has since evolved to include a laboratory component as well as incorporate indigenous stories from around the world to describe processes of the earth system. Indigenous people’s knowledge is place-based, and from this approach we take artwork and stories that describe a geologic and/or atmospheric process and pair that knowledge with the western science descriptions and observations of these processes using modern equipment (i.e. seismometers, weather radars, etc.).
The course uses this unique approach to show that Earth Systems isn’t just a scientific buzzword; indigenous peoples have possessed scientific knowledge of their place of origin for thousands of years, and revisiting the artwork and legends told about these places yields insight into the inter-connectedness of the earth system. By incorporating place-based teaching to non-majors, this course may serve as a recruitment tool to attract non-scientist, particularly Native American students, into the geosciences. Oklahoma is rich in Native American culture, artwork, and stories; this backdrop teaches students that they are a part of the earth system, not a part from the earth system.