Indigenous Knowledge and Global Challenges: Transdisciplinary Dialogues on Risk Interpretation and Action for Disaster Risk Reduction, University of Florida, January 25 to 30, 2015.
This four-day workshop was held at University of Florida, Gainesville, US, from January 25 to 30, 2015, and was organized by PI Simone Athayde and Project Collaborator and UF Faculty Jynessa Dutka-Gianelli. Two of the project’s Co-PIs participated in this workshop: Simon Lambert, from Lincoln University in New Zeland, and Victor Okorie from Obafemi Awolowo University in Nigeria. Unfortunately, Marie-Ange Baudoin had to cancel her trip for professional reasons, and Lun Yin could not travel due to personal commitments.
The main objective of the workshop was to promote international and cross-cultural knowledge and experience exchange on indigenous knowledge systems and disaster risk reduction understanding, policy-making and governance. The workshop involved different activities at University of Florida, such as (see Workshop agenda on Appendix II):
- Meetings and connections with UF Faculty and researchers: Dr. Mark Hostetler (Associate Professor, Wildlife Ecology and Conservation); Dr. Philip Williams (Director, Center for Latin American Studies), Dr. Bette Loiselle (Director, TCD Program) and Dr. Marianne Schmink (Emeritus Professor of Anthropology); Dr. Anthony Oliver-Smith (Emeritus Professor of Anthropology); and Dr. Abe Goldman (Director, Center for African Studies).
- Public workshop, with sharing of case-studies by PI and Co-PIs, as well as interaction with UF students and faculty;
- Field trip aimed at fostering learning and knowledge exchange with Seminole leaders in Tampa and Lakeland. Students and project visitors had the opportunity to learn about Seminole traditional knowledge and approaches to hurricane management in Florida;
- Meeting to discuss framework, paper and next steps for the group.
The workshop included the participation of ten students enrolled in the “Interdisciplinary Research and Practice for Social-environmental Management” class, who had the opportunity to review and learn about the main themes and approaches related to indigenous knowledge and disaster risk management in a global perspective. The students posted comments on the class blog, helped organize the workshop and wrote reports documenting the workshop and main highlights and learning points. They also had the opportunity to interact with Seminole leaders during the fieldtrip to Lakeland and Tampa. Reports prepared by the students on the public workshop and fieldtrip to connect with Seminole leaders can be found in Appendix II.
The workshop opened to the public held at UF on January 28 included participation of 35 people, represented by researchers, faculty and students from different disciplinary fields and departments across UF (Figure 4). Nineteen people (54.2%) completed the evaluation form given to participants. The workshop was rated excellent by 63% and good by 37% of participants. The majority of participants (around 80%) stated that they felt comfortable or very comfortable in participating in transdisciplinary network about indigenous knowledge and disaster risk reduction.
People suggested that the workshop could have lasted longer, and that in future events, we should leave more time for discussion. One participant commented that the workshop “Brought together many elements formerly disparate concepts or factors; very important question regarding sharing experience between groups, cultural exchange”.
The main outcomes of the workshop were:
- Advanced the development of a global framework and drafting of a collective policy-paper on the subject to be written by participants;
- Involved University of Florida faculty and students, WSS fellows, IRDR community, Amazon Dams Network and other related groups and initiatives in this important debate;
- Advanced the formation of an international and transdisciplinary network on IK and DRR involving non-indigenous and indigenous representatives and knowledge holders;
Promoted knowledge exchange between participants and Florida Seminole representatives.