Spotlight #8: Julia Abell: Re-Evaluating Environmental Studies Curriculum: The Importance of Indigenous Knowledge Within the CSB/SJU Environmental Studies Department -Advisor: Dr. Corrie Grosse

I had the privilege of attending the Rising Voices 6 Conference in Duluth last April, a conference focused on Western and Indigenous collaboration to address climate change. The conference was inspirational and gave me a new perspective into the value of creating connections between Western academia and Indigenous culture and knowledge. This experience caused me to reflect on my own environmental education, and led to my research this past fall on Indigenous knowledge within the context of our Environmental Studies Department at CSB/SJU.

During my independent research, I saw CSB/SJU's learning goal of embracing difference as playing a central role. Embracing difference is about acknowledging a diverse array of perspectives and practicing inclusivity both in and outside of the classroom. The entire aim of my research was to learn more about the Environmental Studies Department curriculum, and to learn how Indigenous perspectives could be incorporated in a respectful and mutually beneficial way within our Westernized environmental education. By bringing in more diverse world views and environmental knowledge, students and professors alike have a chance to see environmental issues and the impacts of climate change through different cultural lenses.

Take advantage of every opportunity you can! Participating in undergraduate research is an incredible learning opportunity, and allows you to grow personally, academically, and professionally. You gain more confidence in yourself, and continue to develop valuable communication and research skills for the future. Plus, you have the chance to build relationships with academics, students, professionals, and community members you might not otherwise interact with. To anyone considering undergraduate research, I say have confidence in yourself and take the chance. You may not know everything when you first start, but the best part about undergraduate research is the knowledge you gain through the process.

What else are you involved in on campus?

I'm involved in Climate Action Club, Sustainability Alliance, the Full Circle Greenhouse, and Benedictine Friends. I also work as a Student Assistant in the CSB Sustainability Office.