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African Unit 6

Respecting Indigenous Knowledge Systems

Name: D Rose Elder

College: Ohio State ATI, Wooster OH

Discipline: Multi-disciplinary

Module Title: “Respecting Indigenous Knowledge in Development Projects, An International, Interdisciplinary Curriculum Module”

Narrative Description of the Module: In brief: Indigenous people have not won the technology advancement race, but their contributions to the pool of wisdom has enriched human lives. That wisdom can save us from the mistakes we humans have made in our push to improve and advance humanity. Indeed, the creativity and innovation of indigenous peoples offers a sustainable approach to advanced technology. Respecting Indigenous Knowledge Systems in Development Projects is an international and interdisciplinary curriculum module that offers students an opportunity to investigate the value of indigenous knowledge (IK) in order to protect indigenous people and save the earth from sometimes reckless development practices. International non-governmental organizations, like the United Nations and World Bank, have come lately to this view and have developed criteria and specific ways for incorporating indigenous thought and customs in development planning. The new understanding depends on the belief that in parallel to scientific knowledge (SK) that offers reductionist, discipline-specific analysis and decision-making, IK emphasizes a holistic approach to cultural and ecological sustainability (See Table 1). Historically, the traditional way of life gave way to culturally specific customs of family and land tenure patterns, age-old solutions for living in harmony the land, and patterns of mediation and decision-making for living in harmony with other humans. When Europeans encountered the West Africans in the 1500s, the culture they found was not what people often think of as “traditional,” meaning primitive. Africans boasted powerful urban cultures, great skills in metalworking, hydrology, music and art, agricultural skills particularly in rice production, and a rich spiritual diversity that the western world had yet to see (Thompson, 1983). But that rich body of knowledge was quickly subsumed under colonial models of the Enlightenment-era thinking that valued mechanist models and the new paradigm of the Scientific Revolution. This view birthed capitalism, an economic and political system, which strives to maximize profit for individuals and relies on the concepts of predictability and the rational behavior of economic actors. The idea of rational economic behavior rests on the scientific method, i.e, on the premise that human behavior is rational, predictable, and calculable. The irrational, the metaphysical, the cosmic has no role in economic analysis. Economics is finally about cause and effect and the "laws" of supply and demand (Smith, 1776). Under this system, the contributions of other actors were disregarded except in rare instances of obvious utility. The knowledge about advanced rice and cotton cultivation practices that led to the profitable Carolina rice production and traditional rituals and musical practices that led to new musical forms such as the shout, spirituals, blue, and jazz both result from the cultural customs Africans transported as slaves brought to the New World (Carney, 2002; Southern, 1997).

Throughout two centuries of African colonialization and neo-colonialization, agribusiness, and mining companies exploited local people and their lands, engaging in “land-grabbing” for cash cropping. In 1980, a cross-discipline group of researchers met with indigenous people to discuss how “to develop international and local capability to anticipate, plan and manage the consequences of development to enhance the quality of life for all” and established the International Convention on the Rights of Indigenous People and other declarations that support and value indigenous peoples and their knowledge. These documents provide the primary resources for this module. Please Note: The UN and the social sciences are currently using the term “Indigenous Knowledge” or “Indigenous Knowledge Systems,” and I have used that terminology. Where sources use the term “traditional,” I have of course retained it. Instructors and students may find the searching for “Traditional Knowledge” will continue to be fruitful.

This curriculum module aims to provide:
  1. Many windows into the world of IK and its intrinsic value to its creators;
  2. A guidebook to the wisdom that those of us who seek to build inclusive communities can respectfully consider;
  3. Resources relating to IK from multiple continents and communities:
  4. Activities to engage students in learning, understanding, and appreciating IK, community, economic, and cultural sustainability, and the attitudes and values of global citizens.
  5. Multiple, inter-disciplinary curriculum approaches for faculty members that can be applied to almost any course.
Educational Objectives of the Module
  1. Students construct an integrated perspective of what constitutes knowledge.
  2. Students describe the social, political, economic, cultural, physical, social, and philosophical aspects of indigenous knowledge. (Ohio State Expected Learning Outcome [ELO])
  3. Students explain the role of global summits and international conventions, such as the 1992 Earth Summit (Rio 1992), Agenda 21, Rio +20, Convention on Rights of Indigenous People, and the Convention on Biological Diversity, in setting global benchmarks and sustainable development agendas.
  4. Students discuss ways that indigenous knowledge systems enhance or inhibit sustainable community living for indigenous groups.
  5. Students outline ways that SK enhances or inhibits engagement in sustainable community living and offer ways to adapt SK for more balance, inclusivity of sustainable community living values.
  6. Students explain the role of international diversity in shaping their own attitudes and values as global citizens. (Ohio State ELO)
  7. Students show increased communication skills through writing and speaking
Detailed outline of main themes (with accompanying content notes) to be included in the Lectures/Discussions Used to Implement the Module
Listing of Audio-Visuals and Readings Used to Implement the Module (provide electronic links to sites where they can be accessed)
  1. Nakashima, D., L. Prott, & P. Bridgewater. 2000. Tapping into the World’s Wisdom, UNESCO 125 (July-August), pp. 11-12. (This two-page article is a fine introduction to IK, as a sophisticated system of “knowledge of the natural world.” Its contributions led to so-called “modern science” when Europeans developed ethnobotany and ethnozoology to “grapple with the sudden influx of biological information from ‘foreign parts.’ Another example mentions that farmers in Thailand and Indonesia “maintain more than 100 domestic species…[of] rice varieties adapted to a range of environmental conditions.” The article decries biopiracy as well as the tendency to reduce wisdom to two categories of “useless” and “useful.”)
  2. United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. 2008. United Nations. (This 18-page Declaration is a breath of freedom and respect for all. It represents the best of human thought and feeling. Every student from fifth grade on should read and study this Declaration.)
  3. Land Has Breath: Respecting Nature in Altai. 2010-ongoing. Chagat Almasev, Foundation for Sustainable Development in Altai. (The UN University elucidates the indigenous wisdom of the people of Russia’s Altai Republic. Living in the area between China, Kazakhstan, and Mongolia, the Altai through the generations have developed a system of moral values to protect their natural environment. Nature is animate, full of divinities. The embedded video relates the Altai story and recent changes due to climate change, such as the melting of their glaciers. References are made to the Foundation for Sustainable Development of Altai.)
  4. Pamiri Women and the Melting Glaciers in Tajikistan. 2009. United Nations University. Video resource. (The UN University highlights three Pamiri women of an Iranian ethnic group in Tajikistan. They discuss the impact of the melting of Pamir Mountain glaciers, which have served as a reservoir and provided 50% of the Central Asia’s water. One woman predicts the death of their culture after their lake formerly constituted of the steady runoff completely disappears. The 17-year-old city girl doesn’t know much about the problem. 10:08 min. video with interviews of 3 women.)
  5. Pamiri. 2016. Countries and Their Cultures, World Cultures Encyclopedia. (This website briefly outlines the Pamiri history and culture, mentioning folklore related to combatting harsh weather, their secretive Ishmaili religion, and the zhurni, a comic love song.)
  6. Law I. African Kingdoms Indigenous Laws. 2012. African Customary Chieftancy Laws of National Traditional Council of Liberia in Monrovia, 13 June. Video resource. (In this meeting format, a Ghanaian attorney discuss indigenous problems and laws. From 13:15-15:00 note the laws regarding strangers reporting to gain entry into a small town. 29:27 min.)
  7. Indigenous Knowledge Commons. 2016-ongoing. (A work-in-progress, this website aims to offer teaching and research tools, such as blogs, online classes, and virtual exhibits.)
Student Readings (links to sites where readings can be accessed electronically or by purchase)[See above]
Writing/Field/Experiential Assignments Used to Implement the Module
  1. Case study of someone using indigenous intellectual property, e.g. dance steps, costumes, herbal remedy without prior informed consent. Students divide into stakeholders, e.g. plaintiff of indigenous people, defendants, lawyers, judge, and discuss or argue in Western style or indigenous style.
  2. Students match contemporary drug therapies with indigenous methods and create a poster.
  3. Students interview an acupuncturist or an herbalist and create a video.
  4. Students create or attend an exhibit of indigenous music and dance.
Student Evaluation/Testing Regarding the Module
In order to demonstrate that students have met the goals of this module, instructors will engage in:
  1. Analysis of student presentations and papers chosen. Students must include information that clearly shows their understanding of two or more of the General Education Objectives. Additionally, other students within the class will research and teach to other General Education Objectives so that all students will learn from each other about the goals of this emphasis on IK.
  2. 85% of students explain clearly the:
    1. Role of global summits and international conventions, such as the 1992 Earth Summit (Rio 1992), Agenda 21, Rio +20, Convention on Rights of Indigenous People, and the Convention on Biological Diversity, in setting global benchmarks and sustainable development agendas.
    2. Ways that IK enhances or detracts from sustainable community living for indigenous groups.
    3. Ways that SK enhances and detracts from sustainable community living in the broader society.
Resources (Bibliography) Used to Develop-Implement the Module (where feasible provide links to where resources can be accessed electronically)

Disciple Specific Curriculum Ideas

  1. Educational Objectives
    1. Students discuss how the concept of “free and prior informed consent” relates to international business practices.
    2. Students describe the best practices and principles when working in areas with indigenous people, particularly referencing IAIA and the UN Declaration of Rights of Indigenous People.
  2. Business Audio-Visual Resources and Readings
    1. Poralewska, A. 2012. Free, Prior, and Informed Consent: Protecting Indigenous People’s Rights to Self-Determination, Participation, and Decision-making, Cultural Survival (Dec.). (Cultural Survival, an organization developed to protect the rights of indigenous people housed a Harvard’s Peabody Museum, clearly describes free and prior informed consent [FPIC], including the insistence that the process includes not only consent but the right to participation.)
    2. International Association for Impact Assessment. 2009. Vision, Mission, Values, Professional Code of Conduct, and Ethical Responsibilities. (IAIA provides 4 one-page handouts with aspects of the member’s pledge to engage in sustainable business practices.)
    3. Fair Trade Federation. 2010. Nine Fair Trade Principles. (This FTF website lays out nine principles of fair trade including “Respecting Cultural Identity.”)
    4. World Tourism Organization. 1999. Sustainable Tourism: Global Codes of Ethics for Tourism. (From the World Tourism Organization 1999, a 10-article code of ethics for tourism, which range from results of mutual understanding to sustainable development, from the Global Development Research Center, Japan.)
  3. Bussiness Writing, Field, and Experiential Assignments
    1. Write and present a paper on one aspect of the FPIC. Share with other students. Learn from each other.
    2. Evaluate development projects to assess their compliance with “free and prior informed consent” guidelines. Consider also the IAIA Code of Ethics. Students may collaborate with each other and form groups and receive joint oral or written evaluations.
    3. Each student or group of students take a role of a stakeholder in the role play activity and create a viable plan. Scenario: You are planning solar energy services or a marketing plan for a Ghanaian town. How would you approach the people in the town? What issues would you have to consider in order to develop a successful project? Outline your steps. With which institutions would you engage? What are your greatest needs? Could focus groups help you? Students can debrief and rate each other along with the instructor.
  4. Business General Assessment Plan (Evaluation and Testing)
    1. Analysis of student presentations and papers chosen. Students must demonstrate a clear understanding of both of the Business Objectives.
    2. 85% of students explain clearly the:
      1. Concept of “free, prior, informed consent as it relates to international business practices.
      2. Best practices and principles relating to the IAIA and UN Declaration of Rights of Indigenous People in the establishment of businesses.
      3. Points of view of multiple stakeholders in development projects.
Elementary Education
  1. Elementary Education Educational Objectives
    1. Students show how the meaning of words (e.g. Ewe) reflects the values and lifestyle of a indigenous people.
    2. Students describe how indigenous societies developed medicines for treating illness.
    3. Students demonstrate an understanding of the relationship of drama, art and storytelling, e.g. shadow puppetry and storytelling of Asia
  2. Elementary Education Audio-Visual Resources and Readings
    1. Mathew, R. 1999. Educating Today’s Youth in Indigenous Ecological Knowledge: New Paths for Traditional Ways, UNESCO World Conference on Science, Budapest. (This Cree Nation leader speaks for teaching youth respect for nature and themselves. Mathew proposes indigenous methods of teaching, a pathway parallel to formal education, working in the bush to learn to self-sufficiency as a key.)
    2. Choi, Amy. 2015. We Humans: How Stories are Told Around the World. Ideas.Ted.Com. (Eight single paragraphs highlight how the same story can be told differently from one culture to another. Indigenous storytelling forms include hula, Japanese Rakugo and Indian Bharatanatyam. Good starting point for group projects.)
    3. Australian National Maritime Museum. Living Knowledge: Indigenous Knowledge in Science Education. (This interactive Australian website where students can listen to stories of Dreamtime or explore bush food and medicines. Very high quality resources for students and teachers. One of its stated themes is “Recognizing the value, complexity and status of indigenous knowledge traditions. One of its aims is to produce PhD Theses! Very high quality.)
    4. Omniglot: Useful Ewe Phrases. (Learn a dozen phrases in an African language used from eastern Ghana through Togo, Benin, and into Nigeria.)
    5. Cottrell, Anna. 2006. Once Upon a Time in Africa: Traditional Ewe Stories Retold in English, translated by Agbotadua Togbi Kumassah. Troubadour Publishing. (Ten stories from the Volta Region gathered to showcase the life lessons of humor, wisdom, deception, ethical behavior, and respect imparted by indigenous storytellers. The writer uses indigenous storytelling formats. Kindle edition $3.99.)
    6. Creating a Multicultural Classroom Environment. 2008. Childcare Institute Newsletter, 3(12). (For preschool teachers basic insights into celebrating differences, uniqueness, and similarities for children, which starts with the teacher knowing and appreciating the students.)
    7. Bart, S., C. Crowers, S. Sabatino, & K. Myers. 2000. Should the FDA Ban the Advertising of Herbal Supplements: Willow Bark. (As a University of Delaware website, this senior project, science-oriented site shows uses and contraindications for willow bark, dosages, and describes the chemical makeup.)
    8. Rollins, A. K. Chinese Shadow Puppetry: A Comprehensive Informational Website. (This is indeed a comprehensive website with the history, aesthetic differences between areas of China, templates and supplies needed for making puppets, videos, resources, profiles of puppeteers, and a link to her blog.)
    9. Legend of the Shadow Puppets: Ancient China for Kids. (A short story about how shadow puppetry came to be).
    10. Cultural China: Understanding China’s 5000 year old culture, Myths and Legends. (The home website is another comprehensive website about Chinese culture. This particular part offers Chinese mythology and folk stories.)
    11. Owuor, J. 2007. Integrating African indigenous Knowledge in Kenya’s Formal Education System: The Potential For Sustainable Development, 2(2), Journal of Contemporary Issues in Education, pp. 21-37. (Education for Sustainable Development seeks an “appropriate balance between African cultures, knowledge, values, economic needs, social pressures, demands of the national, and localized and global development strategies” (p. 34). This article values participatory approaches that engage students in community-based decision-making with room and respect for indigenous knowledges. Teacher education must show teachers HOW to integrate indigenous knowledge into the formal curriculum.)
  3. Elementary Education Writing, Field, and Experiential Assignment
    1. Create a book, slide show, play or movie that demonstrates the history (from indigenous societies to ancient Egypt and Hippocrates in Greece) of indigenous pain relievers.
    2. Make a book or slide show that helps others learn an African or Asian language.
    3. In groups, each create one shadow puppet and write a script based on a indigenous story that students can enact for others to show that they understand the form.
  4. Elementary Education Assessment Plan (Evaluation and Testing)
    1. Analysis of student presentations and papers chosen. Students must demonstrate a clear understanding of both of the Elementary Education Objectives.
    2. 85% of students will:
      1. Explain the historical and current role of indigenous medicine in specific societies;
      2. Show increased communication skills;
      3. Understanding of how indigenous knowledge helps people make choices that sustain their communities;
      4. Express a changing identity to include their responsibility as a global citizen.
Health and Medicine
  1. Health and Medicine Educational Objectives
    1. Students outline the benefits of indigenous plants and medicines
    2. Students develop a plan for working sensitively with people of indigenous societies
  2. Health and Medicine Audio-Visual Resources and Readings
    1. Burton, A., T. Falkenberg, M. Smith, Q. Zhang, & X. Zhang. 2013. WHO Traditional Medicine Strategy 2014-2023. (Free 78-page resource, comprehensive, in multiple languages. The guiding vision is “improved health and patient autonomy.” Practices and policies, plus lots of practical examples from Asia and Africa.)
    2. Singh, R.D., S.K. Mody, H.B. Patel, S. Devi, C.M. Modi, & D. R. Kamani. 2014. Pharmaceutical Bio-Piracy and the Protection of Traditional Knowledge, International Journal of Research and Development in Pharmacy and Life Sciences, 3(2), pp. 866-871. (Biopirates, in the form of international companies, are stealing and patenting indigenous medicines and foods. Patent law differences cause confusion. TRIPs is a start for international agreements. India wins fight against US turmeric patent. Broad definitions and specific case examples.
    3. Rights and Resources Initiative. 2012. Respecting Rights, Delivering Development: Forest Tenure Reform since Rio 1992. (This paper documents the progress Indigenous people have made in protecting forests and summarizes the work needed to ensure land tenure rights. From 2002 to2015, the forest areas controlled by Indigenous people increased from 10% to 15%. Fifty new laws protect their claims. Sadly, Asia and Africa lag behind gains made in South America. Agriculture, logging, mining, urban sprawl, and a general lack of government protection of customary land rights threaten environmental and political stability, economic sustainability and food security. Clear graphs.)
    4. Traditional Medicine in Contemporary Contexts: Protecting and Respecting Indigenous Knowledge and Medicine. (This article is a review of indigenous healing practices and literature about it. Good annotated bibliography, e.g. medical ethics for shamans and understanding mental health issues of indigenous people.
    5. Tsey, K. 1997. Traditional Medicine in Contemporary Ghana: A Public Policy Analysis, Social Science & Medicine, 45(7), pp. 1065-1074. (Based on participation observation in Botoku, the article describes the training of indigenous healers, methods of physical and spiritual healing, the future of indigenous medicine in Africa, and integrating IK into the formal health system. The article notes that beginning in 1995 the University of Ghana began offering a medical degree in indigenous medicine.)
    6. Amole, O. 2012. The Role of Traditional Medicine in Primary Health Care, Primary and Acquired Immunodeficiency Research SciTechnol (Brief Editorial. The WHO has included indigenous medicine in primary care plans since 1976. There is an increasing interest worldwide. The role of medicinal plants in the treatment of “malaria, diabetes, diarrhea, pyrexia, high blood pressure, gastrointestinal disorders and as a general tonic” is mentioned.)
    7. Payyappallimana, U. Role of Traditional Medicine in Primary Health Care: An Overview of Perspectives and Challenges, Yokohama Journal of Social Sciences, 14(6), pp. 57-77. (Excellent article with examples from Malaysia, China, and Japan, discussing issues like efficacy, education, and cost effectiveness.)
    8. Rukangira, E. ca. 2000. Medicinal Plants and Traditional Medicine in Africa: Constraints and Challenges. Sustainable Development International, pp. 179-184. (Strategies for conserving and developing indigenous medicinal plants. Several good charts, plants harvested extraction of active ingredients included those exported.)
    9. Tabi, M.M., Powell, M., & D. Hodnicki. 2006. Use of Traditional Healers and Modern Medicine in Ghana, International Nursing Review, 53:1 (March), 52-58. (Integrating Traditional healers into modern healthcare system) (Questionnaire of 9 participants finds mixed use of indigenous and modern medicine related to education, “influence of family and friends, and spiritual/religious beliefs.” Pay to play, $6 to rent for 48 hours. Abstract looks promising, especially since it relates to nursing.)
    10. Young, D., I. Grant, & S. Ingelise. 1988. The Persistence of Traditional Medicine in the Modern World, Cultural Survivor Quarterly, Spring. (General support for IK. Indigenous healers know their patients’ beliefs and lifestyles aiding in treatment. Making both indigenous and Western-style medicine available serves patients as one form better treats conditions the other cannot. )
  3. Health and Medicine Writing, Field, and Experiential Assignments
    1. Develop a health plan for prevention of an illness considering both indigenous and scientific methods.
    2. In meetings with African immigrants, test assumptions about the efficacy of and compliance with medical interventions.
  4. Health and Medicine Assessment Plan (Evaluation and Testing)
    1. Analysis of student presentations and papers chosen. Students must demonstrate a clear understanding of both of the Health and Medicine Objectives.
    2. 85% of students explain clearly the:
  1. Humanities Educational Objective
    1. Students compare indigenous religious values with those of two other world religions.
    2. Students discuss concepts of borrowing and appropriation from indigenous cultures in the arts.
    3. Students describe the contributions of African societies to American culture.
  2. Humanities Audio-Visual Resources and Readings
    1. Luo, Li-Hua. 2014. Intellectual Property Protection of Traditional Cultural Expressions. NY: Springer. (Folklore is a “mark of an ethnic community,” the community’s cultural and political identity. Luo mentions that, “Some traditional dance steps are in fact steps of traditional production skills.” With globalization, which commercializes and makes communities into brands, a respect for the rights related to IK is essential. Luo offers case studies in Dragon Dance Culture, Traditional Brocade Belt of the Fengyang Han Dress, and the Batik Arts of the Miao people. Luo refers Chinese intellectual property law and suggests necessary improvements, particularly as it relates to folklore and related dance steps.)
    2. Sindima, Harvey. n.d. Community of Life: Ecological Theology in African Perspective. (
    3. Southern, Eileen. 1997. The Music of Black Americans: A History of the South, Third Ed. NY: W. W. Norton. (Chapters 1 and 2 in particular describe the music slaves brought with them that developed into America’s original music styles.)
    4. Thompson, Robert F. 1983. Flash of the Spirit. NY: Vintage. (A cultural study of the arts of several indigenous West African societies whose urban complexity defined their creative spirit. The title refers to the endurance of West African spirituality in Western Hemisphere from Brail to Cuba to Jamaica and South Carolina. That remarkable continuity rests on the movements in the ring shout, in African cosmology that defined the cyclical voyage from life to death, and the resultant syncretism that allows for continuity and cultural survival.)
    5. Gascoigne, B. From 2001 ongoing. History of African Art, History World. From 2001 ongoing. History World. (The authors describe shockingly beautiful terracotta figures from Nigeria in 500 BCE and more familiar cast metal sculptures from the Yoruba of Ife in the 12th century C.E. Links to African Art Now.)
    6. Posnansky, M. 1979. Dating Ghana’s Earliest Art, African Arts, 13(1), pp. 52-53+100. (Older article but still interesting specific archaeological information relating to sites where archaeologists found terracotta figures from the early 2nd millennium Ghana. Other finds discussed.)
    7. Mkhize, N. & N. Ndimande-Hlongwa. 2014. African Languages, Indigenous Knowledge Systems (IKS), and the Transformation of the Humanities and Social Sciences in Higher Education, Alternation 21(2), pp. 10-37. (This article assesses the progress that South African universities have made. Based on anti-colonial theory and hermeneutics employed to shake off mental colonization, Mkhize and Ndimande-Hlongwas argue that higher education instruction in indigenous languages changes the “cognitive, philosophical and other frameworks” to transform the academy. Very good bibliography. Part of an interest list of recommendations: “Liaise with professional bodies to ensure that African languages are made a compulsory requirement to attain the qualification. This will ensure that the introduction of African languages as a requirements in not resented by teaching staff and students on the grounds that the curriculum is already full.” p. 30)
  3. Humanities Writing, Field, and Experiential Assignments
    1. Create an exhibit, slide show, or video comparing major world and local indigenous religions.
    2. Develop a manual for fair use of African art products.
    3. Listen to indigenous stories from local recent immigrants with the express desire to build community and value differences. If planning to collect, how will the interaction need to change?
  4. Humanities Assessment Plan (Evaluation and Testing)
    1. Analysis of student presentations and papers chosen. Students must demonstrate a clear understanding of both of the Humanities Objectives.
    2. 85% of students explain clearly the:
  1. Literature Educational Objectives
      1. . Students discuss how indigenous cultures use storytelling and songs to document and respect African culture to facilitate appropriate, sustainable development.
      2. Students compare the style and meaning of indigenous stories from several African cultures.
  2. Literature Audio-Visual Resources and Readings
    1. Aidoo, Ama Ata. “Dilemma of a Ghost,” a play in four acts. 1974. (As a young Ghanaian writer, Aidoo created a modern play that relies on the knowledge of indigenous wisdom and customs. Crones and mothers guide an orphan girl to womanhood.)
    2. Markandaya, Kamala. Nectar in a Sieve. NY: Signet, 1982. (This moving story of the rocky life of a youngest daughter in rural India highlights indigenous wisdom.)
    3. Merolla. D. n.d. The Ewe in Ghana. Verba Africana. (This Ewe language story is in the indigenous format of Ewe storytelling.)
    4. Ali, M. N. 2009. The Prophet of Zongo Street. NY: Harper Collins. (This book of short stories by Ghanaian-born writer Ali delves into indigenous themes of how evil came into the world and how cultural choices organize societies. Students all love these.)
    5. African Fables, Folk Tales, and Myths. N.d. Gateway Africa. (Wonderful drop down menu with literature from many sources.)
  3. Literature Writing, Field, and Experiential Assignments
    1. Discuss or write a paper of evidence of indigenous wisdom in Achebe’s Things Fall Apart, Markandaya’s Nectar in a Sieve (novels) or Aidoo’s “Dilemma of a Ghost” (play).
    2. Write or prepare a paper, poster presentation, or lecture-discussion that compares the moral education in Ghanaian stories to those in Aesop’s fables and/or indigenous stories from Asia, Europe, or Australia.
    3. Discuss the contribution of storytelling to the creation and maintenance of social order.
    4. Collect and tell stories from your family stories. Research how storytelling is changing in the modern world.
  4. Literature General Assessment Plan (Evaluation and Testing)
    1. Analysis of student presentations and papers chosen. Students must demonstrate a clear understanding of both of the Literature Objectives.
    2. 85% of students explain clearly the:
Natural Sciences, Agriculture and Environmental Sciences
  1. Natural Sciences, Agriculture and Environmental Sciences Educational Objectives
    1. Students discuss indigenous African agricultural production methods that scientific agriculture has or could adopt, such as pressing the fruit and seeds of neem tree (Azadirachta indica) to provide a natural insecticide.
    2. Students describe ways to use IK and SK to complete a comprehensive ecological assessment for a development plan, including choices of projects and working policies. (per IAIA guidelines)
  2. Natural Sciences, Agriculture and Environmental Sciences Audio-Visual Resources and Readings
    1. Awori, Achoka. N.d. African Perspective on Environment and Development. Institut des Sciences Mathématiques et Économiques Appliquées.
    2. So, Dorothy. 2003. He’eia Fishponds. (This article about aquaculture describes Hawai’an community fish ponds beginning the 14th century. The site includes legends, resources, and voluntary opportunities.)
    3. Kiene, Tobias. 2011. The Legal Protection of Traditional Knowledge in the Pharmaceutical Field: An Intercultural Problem on the International Agenda. NY: Waxmann. . (Check out the Table of Contents to view some of the plants that this book investigates.
    4. Declaration on Science and the Use of Scientific Knowledge, Science for the 21st Century: A New Commitment, World Conference on Science, Budapest, Hungary, 26 June-1 July 1999. Note esp. Preamble no. 38) (The World Conference on Science calls for an interdisciplinary approach to employing science in the cause of peace and sustainable development. Number 38 calls for the protection of the legal rights related to indigenous knowledge.
    5. Addae-Mensah, I. Exploit Benefits of Neem Tree, GhanaWeb, 22 July 1999. . (Touting a new brochure on the neem tree, Professor Addae-Mensah calls on farmers to grow and use neem to reclaim land degraded by surface mining.)
    6. Bond, C.; Buhl, K.; Stone, D. 2012. Neem Oil General Fact Sheet; National Pesticide Information Center, Oregon State University Extension Services. (This sources outlines the benefits as a natural pesticide and possible health risks of over-exposure to neem oil.) (This source contains a list of 13 references specific to the neem tree.)
    7. Chibale, K., M. Davie-Coleman, C. Masimirembwa, Eds. 2012. Drug Discovery in Africa: Impact of Genomics, Natural Products, Traditional Medines, Insights into Medicinal Chemistry, and Technology Platforms in Pursuit of New Drugs. NY: Springer Science and Business Media. (This book discusses discoveries of effective treatments from indigenous medicine as well as newer discoveries, e.g. plant-based therapies for HIV/AIDS treatment, p. 335, and neem as an antimalarial, pp. 393-96.)
    8. WIPO. A Tree and Traditional Knowledge: A Recipe for Development. (This article extols the 9000+ year old, Namibian marula tree, sclerocary birrea, the fruit and nut of which is rich in vitamin C, fatty acids, anti-oxidants and oleic acid for food and topical applications. Partnerships between the indigenous growers, governments, and pharmaceutical companies are based on fair trade and environmental sustainability.)
    9. Tesfaye, A. & A. Dejen. 2006. Evaluation of Neem (Azadirachta indica) Derivatives for Management of Sorghum Stem Borers (Busseola fusca [fuller] and Chilo partellus [swinhoe]). Ethiopian Journal of Science and Technology, 3: 2, 69-80. . (This article is download-able without registering, choose “download this PDF file” on the registration page. The neem tree is a “biological cousin of mahogany” has endless local applications, from food and fodder to controlling more than 450 insect species, including hard-to-control groups as whitefly, moths, and leaf miners. The researchers applied water from neem seeds and powder from seeds and leaves on sorghum plants to curb stem borers and saw crop increases of more than 50%.)
    10. Zaloumis, A. 2010. iSimangaliso Wetland Park, South Africa: Recognizing the People’s Right to Restitution but the State’s Role in Conservation, MPAs and Indigenous Peoples: Co-Management as a Means of Respecting Traditional Culture and Strengthening Conservation, MPA News: International News and Analysis on Marine Protected Areas, 12(2), Sept.-Oct., pp. 3-4. . (This article has 3 parts, the first is Haida, Alaska; the 2nd, South Africa; and the 3rd in Hawai’i. The 2nd refers to a homeland park named a World Heritage site in 1999. Nine tribes were displaced and received restitution. The article outlines a plan for accommodations for tribal accommodations and ecological protection. See Table 9.)
    11. Indigenous Knowledge & Sustainability, Teaching and Learning for a Sustainable Future. (Introduction, 6 Lesson plans on IK, including English assignments and one on IK in Science, and Reflection section.)
    12. (wildlife conservation)
    13. DeWalt, B.R. 1994. Using Indigenous Knowledge to Improve Agriculture and Natural Resource Management, Human Organization, 53(2) Summer, pp. 123-131. (The article features three examples of the strengths and limits of IK. Purchase online $20.)
    14. Women’s Knowledge, Biotechnology and International Trade Fostering a Dialogue into the Next Millennium. 1998. The Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture and the AgriFuture Foundation: Policy Panel at the Second International Conference on Women in Agriculture. Washington, D.C., June 28-July 2.'s%20traditional%20knowledge&f=false (Panel papers online, including African women as custodians of seed.)
    16. Trask, M. I. n.d. Women and Traditional Knowledge, in Theory of the Gift Economy, Center for the Study of the Gift Economy and International Feminists for a Gift Economy. (“Reciprocity is not defined or limited by the language of market economy because it implies that more is owed than the financial payment when goods and services exchange hands.” The gift economy emphasizes collective needs leading to balance. Reciprocity in human interaction with nature ensures sustainability. Specialized knowledge of women and men leads to sustainable systems of pest managements, soil conservation, and other aspects of agricultural productivity. Trask recognizes women’s specialized knowledge. See also The Gift Economy website, in general, examines the effect the policies and practices of the developed world have had on developing countries.)
    17. Fox, C. 2000. Looking after their own backyard: Women and Environment, UNESCO 125 (July-August), pp. 7-8. (Two examples of women improving their middle-sized city environments in Burkina Faso and South Africa through UNESCO-backed programs.)
    18. Agrawal, R. n.d. Small Farms, Women and Traditional Knowledge: Experiences from Kumaon Hills. University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Conference. (Recent Indian development projects have resulted in increased poverty and gender inequalities. Indigenous subsistence agriculture in the Kumaon Hills relied on an integrated, interdependent cooperative approach with the nearby forests. Farmers used leaf litter as manure and fodder for animals, then livestock manure was reintroduced to enrich forests and farms. Forests preserved spring water needed for irrigation. Women work at more tasks for more hours than men in crop production, seed collection, and animal husbandry, but their work is invisible to development officers. Resulting cash cropping and shrinking forests increased women’s workload for daily tasks. “More and more regions in Uttarakhandare becoming food insecure.” Importantly, indigenous practices of collection and storage of seeds, preparation of animal feeds, and herbal remedies for livestock diseases relies on women’s knowledge. Information is not specific, but good general information calls for the consideration, protection, and inclusion of women and their knowledge.)
    19. Pourchez, L. 2011.Women’s Knowledge: Traditional Medicine and Nature (Mauritius, Reunion and Rodrigues). UNESCO. (Women’s knowledge of medicinal plants and practices especially related to childbirth on these islands. In French. Available from UNESCO 15 euros.)
  3. Natural Sciences, Agriculture and Environmental Sciences Writing, Field, and Experiential Assignments
    1. Write or prepare a paper, poster presentation, or lecture-discussion concerning the best ways to earn the trust of and gain credibility in a new culture as well as the barriers that inhibit cultural understanding and overcoming those barriers.
    2. Students take a role of a stakeholder in the role play activity and create a viable plan. Scenario: You are planning a sustainable agricultural project for a Ghanaian town. How would you approach the people in the town? What issues would you have to consider in order to make the project successful? Focus groups? Other? What are your greatest needs? Students can debrief and rate each other.
  4. Natural Sciences, Agriculture and Environmental Sciences Assessment Plan (Evaluation and Testing)
    1. Analysis of student presentations and papers chosen. Students must demonstrate a clear understanding of both of the Natural Sciences, Agriculture and Environmental Sciences Objectives.
    2. 85% of students explain clearly the:
Philosophy and Ethics
  1. Philosophy and Ethics Educational Objectives
    1. Students compare and contrast modern philosophy and indigenous knowledge and wisdom and analyze the value and problems of each.
    2. Students describe moral codes and behavior of indigenous societies and how they differ from those of capitalist, socialist, and communist societies.
  2. Philosophy and Ethics Audio-Visual Resources and Readings
    1. Charles Lowney. Dewey’s Criticisms of Traditional Philosophy: Towards a Pragmatic Conception of Philosophy. Boston University: Paideia. (Another use of “traditional” but applicable in other ways to the theme.)
    2. Puett, Michael & C. Gross-Liu. 2016. The Path: What Chinese Philosophers Can Teach Us About the Good Life. NY: Simon & Schuster. (The Western philosophical bent leads to predestination, individualism, the Protestant work ethic and the like. This book elucidates the views of Chinese philosophers, who also disagree among themselves. We humans are "fragmented and malleable" selves and base our actions on emotions. Puett proposes insights, which include daily rituals that are transformative and [re-]construct our identities to approach life's challenges with heart and head.)
    3. Oruka, H.O. 2000 (ca.). African Philosophy. (Kenyan philosopher Oruka offers his “4 trends in African philosophy” and a resource list.)
    4. Mazzochi, F. 2006. Western Science and Traditional Knowledge: Despite Their Variations, Different Forms of Knowledge Can Learn From Each Other, EMBO Reports Science and Society, 7(5), May, 463-6. (Strong arguments for a philosophical approach to science. Indigenous societies strive to maintain their “social, cultural, and environmental stability and integrity” rather than exploit it to maximize profits. They consider the symbiotic relationship between humans and nature. The author recommends contemporary hermeneutics and complex thinking to create insights into more developed views of reality.)
    5. Berkes, F. 1993. Traditional Ecological Knowledge in Perspective, pp. 1-7. In J. T. Inglis, Ed., Traditional Ecological Knowledge: Concepts and Cases. Ottawa: International Program on Traditional Ecological Knowledge. (Short, online book chapter gives good basics of how IK differs from SK, such as IK does not aim to control nature and the benefits of considering IK.)
    6. Lalonde, A. African Indigenous Knowledge and its Relevance to Sustainable Development, pp. 55-62. In J. T. Inglis, Ed., Traditional Ecological Knowledge: Concepts and Cases. Ottawa: International Program on Traditional Ecological Knowledge. (See on-line source above Berkes listing.
    7. Masolo, D.A. 2003. Philosophy and Indigenous Knowledge: An African Perspective, Africa Today, 50(2) Fall/Winter, pp. 21-38. (The article queries, “To what extent are disciplines universal, rather than ethnodisciplines.” The designation of indigenous separates “those things that belong(ed) in the local political and cultural space from those that were or are elements of (hegemonically) intrusive and illegitimate invasion.”)
    8. African Philosophy Resources. Topics: Indigenous Knowledge Systems. (A website of about two dozen websites from witchcraft in modern Africa to Bantu philosophy in multiple languages.)
    9. Odora Hoppers, C.A. ed. 2002. Indigenous Knowledge and the Integration of Knowledge Systems, In Indigenous Knowledge and the Integration of Knowledge Systems: Towards a Philosophy of Articulation, pp. 2-22. (The author charges that in Africa, the loss of cultural reference points has led to the breakdown of society. Grassroots groups are demanding that the academic community develop a research focus that discovers the best of indigenous knowledge of “resource-rich but economically poor communities” and integrates that into the curriculum.)
  3. Philosophy and Ethics Assessment Plan (Evaluation and Testing)
    1. Analysis of student presentations and papers chosen. Students must demonstrate a clear understanding of both of the Philosophy and Ethics Objectives.
    2. 85% of students explain clearly the:
Political Science, Law, and Human Rights
  1. Political Science and Human Rights Educational Objectives
    1. Students discuss international treaties and conventions that affect human rights issues.
    2. Students compare indigenous African government structures, such as the concept of chieftancy, to those of “western” societies.
  2. Political Science, Law and Human Rights Audio-Visual Resources and Readings
    1. Cobbah, J.A.M. 1987. African Values and the Human Rights Debate: An African Perspective, Human Rights Quarterly, 9:3 (Aug.), pp. 309-331. (This article demands that Africans “articulate …an African sense of human dignity” within their cultural context to counter Western ethical individualism in favor of community obligations which support social institutions.)
    2. World Intellectual Property Organization. Traditional Knowledge and Intellectual Property: Background Brief. (Intellectual property rights laws were written for the benefit of technologically advanced societies and do not speak to the needs of indigenous knowledge systems. Indigenous knowledge isn’t old and dead, it’s a dynamic, living body. Indigenous remedies and indigenous art need positive protections from appropriation.)
    3. Mapaure, Clever. 2011. Reinvigorating African Values for SADC: The Relevance of Traditional African Philosophy of Law in a Globalising World of Competing Perspectives, Southern African Development Community Law Journal, 1, pp. 149-173. (This paper focuses on African indigenous law and the strength that it can bring to the modern international community through GLOCALISATION, “a recognition and respect of the internal diversities of law across Africa.” Asking whether Africans have a theory of natural law, Mapaure proposes bringing African law out of the shadow of Western jurisprudence, which is rooted in positivism. Fascinating article.)
    4. Yankah. Kwesi. 1995. Speaking for the Chief: Okyeame and the Politics of Akan Royal Oratory (African Systems of Thought Series). Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
    6. Ciprut, Jose V. 2000. The Art of the Feud: Reconceptualizing International Relations. Praeger
    8. Baldwin, Kate. 2015. The Paradox of Traditional Chiefs in Democratic Africa. Cambridge Studies in Comparative Politics. (Chiefs chosen from royal lines can facilitate the democratic process and rural development.)
  3. Political Science and Human Rights Writing, Field, and Experiential Assignments
    1. Show at least an intermediate understanding of an international treaty and the international enforcement efforts for that treaty.
    2. Explain the benefits and drawbacks of African chieftancy to indigenous communities in a modern setting
  4. Political Science and Human Rights Assessment Plan (Evaluation and Testing)
    1. Analysis of student presentations and papers chosen. Students must demonstrate a clear understanding of both of the Political Science and Human Rights Objectives.
    2. 85% of students explain clearly the:
Social Sciences and Women and Gender Studies
  1. Social Sciences and Women and Gender Studies Educational Objectives
    1. Students describe the purpose and value of indigenous rituals to maintaining cultures.
    2. Students discuss the ways to use IK and SK to complete a comprehensive sociological assessment for a development plan, including choice of projects and working policies. (per IAIA guidelines)
  2. Social Sciences and Women and Gender Studies Audio-Visual Resources and Readings
    1. Kim, U., Lang, K-S., and K-K. Hwang, Eds. 2006. Indigenous and Cultural Psychology: Understanding People in Context. NY: Springer Science & Business Media. (Both theoretical and practical this book is challenging reading but offers a framework for discussing the “scientific study of human behavior or mind that is native” not imported from the West. Articles focus mainly on issues from Asian perspectives, such as interpersonal relationships in Japanese amae, cognition and Tao thought, cognition and Indian thought, Korean parent-child relationships and academic achievement, and creating indigenous psychologies. In depth but expensive.)
    2. APA Special Section. 2010. Indigenous People: Promoting the Well-being of Indigenous People. (This very readable online resource outlines key elements “for enhancing the psychological well-being” of indigenous people. The resource mainly focuses on groups from the Western hemisphere. But one chapter describes the history, trauma, and culturally sensitive counseling methods for spiritual healing for the Chamorros, the indigenous people of Guam.)
    3. Carney, J. A. 2002 Black Rice: The African Origins of Rice Cultivation in the Americas. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. (This scholarly work discusses the critical role Africans from the Congo played in bringing to rice cultivation to South Carolina.)
    4. Emery, A. R. 2000. Integrating Indigenous Knowledge In Project Planning and Implementation. International Labor Organization, World Bank, Canadian Development Agency & Kivu Nature.$file/IndiKnow-NP-e.pdf (Clear and concise complete step-by-step guide to everything you need to know about goals, guidelines, and best practices. Beginning with “the assumption of individual human rights [for] the panoply of collective rights flows properly from this base,” creating room for maintaining cultural integrity and social justice, inviting indigenous partners, and setting up a sustainable development project, Emery refers to many conventions and covenants related to IK, particularly ILO 169. He recommends many IK websites, centers, literature, and newsletters.)
    5. Interagency Support Group on Indigenous People’s Issues. 2014. The Knowledge of Indigenous Peoples and Policies For Sustainable Development: Updates and Trends In The Second Decade of The World’s Indigenous People. (The UN website ( has unending and excellent resources on its work in the areas of IK and sustainable developments, both conventions’ and working groups’ reports. Search traditional knowledge. This paper includes case studies of accessing indigenous knowledge to prevent biodiversity loss and climate change. Brief, specific cases include: Australian fire management and New Zealand land and sea management.)
    6. Croal, P., Tretreault, C., and members of the IAIA IP Section. 2012. Respecting Indigenous Peoples and Indigenous Knowledge: International Best Practice Principles, Series No. 9. Fargo: International Association for Impact Assessment. (This 4-page paper outlines the Section’s guidelines for development and capacity building. The Section is sensitive to protecting the “intellectual activity and insight” of indigenous people, including the “know-how, skills, innovations, practices, and learning…and knowledge that is embodied in the traditional lifestyle of a community or people, or is contained in codified knowledge systems passed between generations.” Basic and operating principles are clearly delineated.)
    7. Munawar-Ishfaq, S. 2010. Women’s Traditional Knowledge and Sustainable Development in Rural Sialkot, Pakistan. Masters’ Thesis. University of Wellington, Victoria. (File may be opened without signing in. Exploring the “intimate link beween IK studies and sustainable development, Munawar-Ishfaq interviewed elderly Pakistani women about their “knowledge systems and changing social roles in socioeconomic and environmental change.” She notes the disappearance of trees like the acacia nilotica used as fuel wood and chewing sticks, which scientists have since shown prevents plaque and gum disease. A well-organized thesis, the first 50 pages gives clear definitions of methodology. Chapter 5 focuses on development policies of Pakistan. Ch. 6 begins the presentation of her participatory approach to fieldwork and highlights women’s IK in agriculture and flora.)
    8. Traditional Knowledge and Gender Sensitive Adaptation Blogspot, Women/Gender Constituency. 1994-ongoing. (Following the 1994 UN Convention on Climate Change, Women/Gender Constituency formed to ensure that the needs of women stay central to decision-making processes.)
    9. Gearhart-Sema, T.L. 2009. Women’s Work, Women’s Knowing: Intellectual Property and the Recognition of Women’s Traditional Knowledge, Yale Journal of Law & Feminism, 21(2), Art. 4. (Women do 2/3 of the work worldwide, receive 2/3 the pay of men, and their work is largely unnoticed. The worldwide recognition of few women’s products such as quilts from Gee’s Bend, Alabama and baskets from Rwanda, has opened questions of intellectual property rights, usually denied women because of their low status and/or the low status of the products they create. This article presents a feminist perspective of women’s indigenous knowledge.)
  3. Social Sciences and Women and Gender Studies Writing, Field, and Experiential Assignments
    1. Create a list of best practices for people who engage in international development.
    2. Assess the role of women in a specific development project, such as a reforestation project.
    3. Take a role of a stakeholder in the role play activity and create a viable plan. Scenario: You are planning a solar energy project for a Ghanaian town. How would you approach the people in the town? What issues would you have to consider in order to make the project successful? How would you design and conduct focus groups? Other ideas? What are your greatest needs? Students can debrief and rate each other.
  4. Social Sciences, Women and Gender Studies Assessment Plan (Evaluation and Testing)
    1. Analysis of student presentations and papers chosen. Students must demonstrate a clear understanding of both of the Social Sciences, Women and Gender Studies Objectives.