AcademIK Connection is a series of video clips highlighting the importance of indigenous knowledge in addressing major challenges facing the world today. This video series was produced by the Humanitarian Engineering and Social Entrepreneurship (HESE) initiative in the College of Engineering with funding support from the Interinstitutional Consortium for Indigenous Knowledge (ICIK) and the Marjorie Grant Whiting Endowment for Indigenous Knowledge Advancement. A team of Penn State educators, collaborating with community members and scholars at other universities, created these videos demonstrating the importance of indigenous knowledge in developing and implementing entrepreneurial strategies to foster self-determined development. The videos are intended for use in educational settings.
This introductory video sets the stage for the AcademIK Connections video clip series. Khanjan Mehta discusses the rationale and objectives of the series with interspersed perspectives from others. It is explained that these stories come from individuals who, regardless of their discipline, research interest or experiential background, consciously and respectfully employ indigenous knowledge in their teaching, research and community engagement. Mehta suggests we need to meld indigenous and western knowledges to inspire radical innovation and foster sustainable, self-determined development.
Madhu Suri Prakash, Professor of Education, discusses the Green Revolution, as undertaken in Cuba, which addresses the energy, food and global warming "triple" crises. Dr. Prakash argues that if we want to learn how to establish a sustainable footprint, we cannot turn to the United States and other developed countries. We should, rather, learn from the experiences of developing countries like Cuba, Costa Rica, and Bhutan, all highly ranked on the Happy Planet Index.
Ladi Semali, Associate Professor of Education, discusses science education in Tanzania and discusses the issue of inappropriate representation of Africa by the media. He provides a glimpse into the African perspective on happiness and suggests there are many "happy hours" in African cultures and they are not just at the end of the workday. They are spontaneous. So happiness and hopelessness may co-exist and stories about both "states of being" should be need to be independently explored to express the real meaning of poverty.
Duarte Morais, Associate Professor of Recreation, Parks and Tourism Management (now at North Carolina State University), tells the story of Lan Yue, a tiny Taiwanese island where a tourism development project failed because the government did not consider the people's cultural mores and knowledge of the local weather patterns. Another story about the Yami people suggests that a community should have the right to represent themselves, formulate their identity, and decide what aspects of their culture are showcased to the outside world.
Carolyn Sachs, Professor of Agricultural Economics and Rural Sociology, discusses gender aspects of agriculture that preserve biodiversity. One of her stories is from Swaziland where her team, while advising farmers on how to obtain a higher maize yield, observed that women were not weeding the maize in a timely fashion. Several years later, the researchers discovered that two crops they had identified as "weeds" were known by the people to be healthful and provided an important source of pro-vitamin A for their family's diets.
Bruce Martin, now at the University of Michigan, grew up with the Ojibwe people. He remembers going fishing with his Ojibwe friends who had their own way of "reading the lake" to predict the location of fish and the day's weather conditions. Martin notes the strong connection between language and culture. While English is a language of nouns, Ojibwe is a language of verbs. For the Ojibwe, the world is alive, and dynamic relationships exist between the people and their natural environment.
Michael Jacobson, Associate Professor of Forest Resources, discusses businesses based on indigenous knowledge. Encouraged by the growing interest from tourists, a traditional healer partnered with a hotel owner in Durban to start the Fordoun Spa that uses indigenous products for spa treatments. For instance women entrepreneurs are collecting baobab seeds to extract oil for export to Europe where it is used in making perfumes. The pulp in the baobab fruit also has potential as fruit juice, wine, and other high-end consumer products.
ACDI/VOCA’s vision is a world in which people are empowered to succeed in the global economy. ACDI/VOCA, a nonprofit development organization, has worked since 1963 in 145 countries to provide knowledge, opportunities and choices to enable people to live better lives. Today they work in about 40 countries, implementing projects that provide assistance in agribusiness, financial services, enterprise development, community development and food security. ACDI/VOCA works to promote broad-based economic growth and vibrant civil society. Click here for more videos from ICDI/VOCA.
Jan de Leeuw from ILRI reflects on a recent conference in Addis Ababa on the future of pastoralism in Africa, held in Addis Ababa (21-23 March 2011). He concludes that pastoral systems in Africa are very much in transition. He notes that external influences on pastoralism (education, religion, land rights etc) are much more visible than in the past; the "full mobility" pastoralism that we knew is changing. He comments on so-called 'land grabbing' and pastoral development; and the particular challenges of development in drylands where the interventions of governments and others are increasingly impacting the livelihoods of pastoralists.
Ian Scoones from the Institute of Development Studies and the Future Agricultures Consortium reflects on some key issues emerging from a conference on the future of pastoralism in Africa, held in Addis Ababa (21-23 March 2011). His conclusion: Pastoralism is "alive and well" in some parts of the continent. But there are downsides: constraints caused by pressures on land, as well as recurring conflicts. This leads to a division between those who are "really making it" and those who are "really struggling." This poses major policy issues at the two ends of these extremes. He also draws attention to Africa-wide developments where he provide a broad policy framework for addressing pastoral issues. In conclusion: "Uncertainty for sure, questions of climate change, uncertain markets, conflict ... but also a positive story and with that a great diversity and the need to attune policies to particular areas and particular places."
ILRI's Augustine Ayantunde draws attention to the two major conference strands - on one side, the optimists, on the other 'doom and gloom.' He emphasized that it was not really possible to generalize across regions. He concludes by suggesting that the future will lie in pastoralist communities being able to take advantage of present opportunities while also taking care of their traditions.
Augustine Ayantunde from ILRI introduced an ILRI-led project on 'integrated management of rainwater in mixed crop-livestock integrated systems' (in the Volta river basin). The project aims to evaluate and test best fit rainwater management strategies in Ghana and Burkina Faso. Instead of traditional linear research for farmers, the project’s emphasis is on the participation of local stakeholders and communities through innovation platforms. The platforms will be mechanisms or spaces where many people involved in a value chain can meet together and collectively design appropriate interventions with the farmers. The Volta Basin Development Challenge is funded by the CGIAR Challenge Program on Water and Food (CPWF).
Adrian Cullis from FAO Ethiopia reflects on the recent conference in Addis Ababa on the future of pastoralism in Africa, held in Addis Ababa (21-23 March 2011). The event's fundamental take home message is that "there is a future for pastoralism in Africa." However, it looks like there will be different futures and different forms of pastoralism - with winners and losers. He also outlines the work FAO does in this area, and comments on some issues like gender and productivity issues (of rangelands, of livestock) that received insufficient attention in the meeting. He noted the complementarity between ILRI's strong research focus and FAO's project and policy emphasis.
What happens when small holder farmers from different parts of the developing world share their knowledge and experience? In 2007, four farmer couples, (husbands and wives), from Oases in Morocco spent six months living with oasis farmers in Mauritania who were struggling to survive. This short video looks at what happened. You can find more videos from IFAD here
Olive a Landcare farmer in Uganda tells us how the Landcare approach to Sustainable land management (SLM) worked in Kapchorua area. Farmers in Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya have been able to use collective action and partnerships to rehabilitate some degraded landscapes. The farmers identified key degraded areas through participatory problem identification and came up with various solutions. Through assistance from the Kenya Landcare team, they gained access to various trees species suitable for different landscapes. You can find more videos from Landcare Interantional here.
This video features the Landcare success story in Tanzania. Farmers in Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya have been able to use collective action and partnerships to rehabilitate some degraded landscapes. The farmers identified key degraded areas through participatory problem identification and came up with various solutions. Through assistance from the Kenya Landcare team, they gained access to various trees species suitable for different landscapes. You can find more videos from Landcare Interantional here.
This video is a discussion on how the steps in Participatory Action Research (PAR) enable people, groups and organizations to address complex problems.
Director of Secretariat at IPACC, elaborates on intergenerational ecological knowledge transmission in Participatory 3-dimensional modelling (P3DM). Observations on intergenerational interaction are made when the Ogiek community of Nessuit, Kenya built a geo-referenced model of their mountain forest landscape in 2006.
"Hope on the Range" is the product of research and scores of interviews with academic and scientific experts, conservationists, ranchers, and other stakeholders. It is designed to dispel myths associated with stewardship and use of western rangelands, promote the multiple use concept of public lands management and advance the idea of the interdependence of public and private rangelands. This documentary specifically focuses on livestock grazing and how this legacy has evolved from a practice that was once considered a detriment to the health of the land, to a practice that today can be used to promote healthy rangelands and conservation values.