Cheryl M. Bartlett
Canada Research Chair in Integrative Science
Tier 1 - 2002-10-01
Cape Breton University
Social Sciences and Humanities
Synthesizing scientific knowledge from Aboriginal sources and orthodox Western concepts.
Creation of a new approach to general science programming and research in higher education.
Joining Two Worlds of Knowledge
Despite the close connection between Canada's Aboriginal peoples and what they call Mother Earth, collected native wisdom about the environment, health, engineering and other elements of science is little acknowledged within Western concepts of scientific knowledge. As part of the renewal of the relationship between Aboriginal peoples and the rest of Canada, it has become clear to many that sharing ways of knowing and knowledge about science is essential. In addition, as a signatory to the 1992 United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity, Canada is committed to maintaining, protecting and promoting Aboriginal knowledge.
In the mid-1990s, the University College of Cape Breton began to work toward developing a new approach to science programming in higher education that would bring together Western and Aboriginal knowledge to create a curriculum to reflect both traditions and appeal to Aboriginal students across the country.
Dr. Cheryl Bartlett came to the challenge of designing, implementing and developing this unique type of program with a background in wildlife parasitology and biodiversity, and a deep interest in the traditional teachings of the Mi'kmaq First Nations.
Her research program entails extensive synthesis of information from sources as diverse as existing literature, "living knowledge" from within Aboriginal communities and material gathered in her own applied science research projects. The six objectives she has established address such topics as the need to extend the capacity to bring together different types of knowledge, broad consultation, the design of projects to apply and test new integrative science understandings, and the dissemination of new knowledge to create awareness of integrative science.
Believed to be the first program of its kind in North America, Dr. Bartlett's research has the potential to generate new interest in science among Aboriginal youth, providing a new stream of innovative students, and create a powerful synthesis of academic and non-academic knowledge about science.