ICYMI: SACNAS Member Dr. Narrissa Spies and SACNAS President Dr. Sonia Zárate Highlight Why Indigenous Views on Climate Change Matter in Honolulu Star-Advertiser Op-Ed

HONOLULU, HI — Indigenous communities are affected first and worst by climate change, yet they are often excluded from the decisions that influence policy and resource management. This means indigenous science and knowledge are seldom considered when crafting solutions to combat the climate crisis. In a recent op-ed published by the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, SACNAS member Dr. Narrissa Spies and SACNAS President Dr. Sonia I. Zárate delve into the importance of connecting indigenous perspectives and science with Western science and traditional knowledge that can lead to effective and culturally sensitive solutions.

The issues addressed in the op-ed— climate change science and indigenous knowledge— as well as the need for true diversity in STEM are among the central topics explored at 2019 SACNAS – The National Diversity in STEM Conference, which is convening over 5,000 STEM leaders, professionals, scientists and students at the Hawai’i Convention Center from October 31 to November 2, 2019. The event hosted by SACNAS (Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics & Native Americans in Science) is featuring tracks led by Native Hawai’ian and indigenous scientists across STEM disciplines and includes sessions on the effects of climate change on Pacific islands and their indigenous peoples, resources and culture; the consequences of rising temperatures, ice melt, drought and hurricanes on aquatic invertebrate island communities in Hawai’i, Antarctica, Pacific Northwest and Puerto Rico, as well as how the blending of indigenous and western sciences adds significant value to the understanding of STEM subjects.

The full opinion piece is available online here and is excerpted below:

“For Native Hawaiians, there is a value held sacred called Malama Aina, which means “to care for the land so that it will take care of you.” For more than a thousand years, Hawaiians have lived in harmony with the land and the oceans. That’s why it is so devastating for me (co-author Spies), as a Pacific Islander and a scientist, to realize that my life’s work is actually a race to document a species before it goes extinct due to climate change.”

“Climate change needs to be everyone’s battle. Whether or not we are able to change our current destructive course will depend on a willingness to include ALL perspectives in the solution, especially indigenous perspectives and those of people of color, and to bridge Western science with traditional knowledge.”

The largest multidisciplinary and multicultural STEM diversity event in the country, 2019 SACNAS – The National Diversity in STEM Conference serves to equip, empower, and energize participants for their academic and professional paths in STEM. From October 31 to November 2, 2019, college-level through professional attendees are immersed in cutting-edge scientific research and professional development sessions, motivational keynote speakers, a Graduate School & Career Expo Hall, multicultural celebrations, and an inclusive and welcoming community of peers, mentors, and role models. The conference is a training ground for the next generation of diverse STEM professionals, aiming to level the playing field for first-generation college students of color through mentorship, professional development, and networking opportunities. For more information or to register, visit www.2019sacnas.org/.

For over 46 years, SACNAS has served as an inclusive organization dedicated to fostering the success of Chicano/Hispanics & Native Americans, from college students to professionals, in attaining advanced degrees, careers, and positions of leadership within STEM.

Today, the organization serves a growing community of over 20,000 supporters, 6,000+ members, and 115+ student and professional chapters throughout the United States and Puerto Rico. SACNAS influences the STEM diversity movement through STEM outreach & advocacy, promotion of STEM leaders, and The SACNAS National Diversity in STEM Conference. Learn more about SACNAS at sacnas.org, Facebook, or Twitter.


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