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Decolonizing the Syllabus Bibliography

Environmental Sciences, Environmental Studies

See the special issue of Environmental Education Research, Volume 20, Issue 1 (2014) on the theme: Land education: Indigenous, postcolonial, and decolonizing perspectives on place and environmental education research. View table of contents; see especially the editorial introducing the issue.

Baker, K, Eichhorn, MP, Griffiths, M. Decolonizing field ecology. Biotropica. 2019; 51: 288– 292.

Chinn, P.W. “Decolonizing Methodologies and Indigenous knowledge: The Role of Culture, Place and Personal Experience in Professional Development.” Journal of Research in  Science Teaching, 44 (2007): 1247-1268.

Abstract: This study reports findings from a 10‐day professional development institute on curricular trends involving 19 secondary mathematics and science teachers and administrators from Japan, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Korea, Philippines, the United States, and People's Republic of China. Participants explored the roles of culture, place, and personal experience in science education through writings and group discussions. Initially, Asian participants tended to view indigenous knowledge and practices more negatively than U.S. peers. After a presentation on indigenous Hawaiian practices related to place and sustainability, they evaluated indigenous practices more positively and critiqued the absence of locally relevant science and indigenous knowledge in their national curricula. They identified local issues of traffic, air, and water quality they would like to address, and developed lessons addressing prior knowledge, place, and to a lesser extent, culture. These findings suggested critical professional development employing decolonizing methodologies articulated by indigenous researchers Abbott and Smith has the potential to raise teachers' awareness of the connections among personal and place‐based experiences, cultural practices and values, and teaching and learning. An implication was the development of a framework for professional development able to shift science instruction toward meaningful, culture, place, and problem‐based learning relevant to environmental literacy and sustainability.

Davis, H., & Todd, Z. (2017). On the Importance of a Date, or, Decolonizing the Anthropocene. ACME: An International Journal for Critical Geographies, 16(4), 761-780.

Abstract: This article argues for the importance of including Indigenous knowledges into contemporary discussions of the Anthropocene. We argue that a start date coincident with colonization of the Americas would more adequately open up these conversations. In this, we draw upon multiple Indigenous scholars who argue that the Anthropocene is not a new event, but is rather the continuation of practices of dispossession and genocide, coupled with a literal transformation of the environment, that have been at work for the last five hundred years. Further, the Anthropocene continues a logic of the universal which is structured to sever the relations between mind, body, and land. In dating the Anthropocene from the time of colonialization, the historical and ideological links between the events would become obvious, providing a basis for the possibility of decolonization within this framework.


Decolonizing Conservation: A Reading List by Sara Cannon.

Decolonizing ecology and evolution is a long road. Nat Ecol Evol 5, 1187 (2021).

Decolonizing Environmental Education: Building Relationships with Indigenous Peoples -- A 2017 recorded webinar from the North American Association for Environmental Education.


Haber, A., Gnecco, C. Virtual Forum: Archaeology and Decolonization. Arch 3, 390–412 (2007).


Root, Emily. "This Land Is Our Land? This Land Is Your Land: The Decolonizing Journeys of White Outdoor Environmental Educators." Canadian Journal of Environmental Education. 15 (2010): 103-119.


Shava, S. "The Representation of Indigenous Knowledges." In International Handbook of Research on Environmental Education, edited by  R. Stevenson, M. Brody, J. Dillon, & A. Wals, 384–393. New York, NY: Routledge, 2013. Link in Knox Primo.


 Simpson, M., & Bagelman, J. (2018). Decolonizing Urban Political Ecologies: The Production of Nature in Settler Colonial Cities. Annals of the American Association of Geographers, 108(2), 558–568.

Abstract: This article contributes to the decolonization of urban political ecology (UPE) by centering the ongoing processes of colonization and its resistances that produce urban natures in settler colonial cities. Placing the UPE literature in conversation with scholarship on settler colonialism and Indigenous resurgence, we demonstrate how the ecology of the settler colonial city is marked by the imposition of a colonial socionatural order on existing Indigenous socionatural systems. Examining the case of Lekwungen territory, commonly known as Victoria, British Columbia, we consider how parks, property lines, and settler agriculture are inscribed on a dynamic food system maintained by the Lekwungen over millennia. The erasure of the Lekwungen socioecological system, however, has never been complete. Efforts of the Lekwungen and their allies to continue managing these lands as part of an Indigenous food system have resulted in conflict with volunteer conservationists and parks officials who assert their own jurisdictional authority over the space. Drawing on interviews and participant observation research, we argue that the seemingly quotidian and everyday acts of tending to urban greenspace by these groups are actually of central importance to struggles over the reproduction of UPEs in the settler colonial city.

 Thornton, Thomas F ; Bhagwat, Shonil A. (2020)The Routledge Handbook of Indigenous Environmental Knowledge. Link in Knox Primo.


Valle, Gabriel R. "Narratives of Place: Critical Reflections on Place-making in the Curriculum of Environmental Studies and Sciences (ESS)." Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences (Mar 2020). Link in Knox Primo.

Abstract: This essay reflects on the experiential learning of place and place-making in the ESS curriculum, and contributes to the literature on critical place-based education. This paper discusses "narratives of place" as part of a critical race theoretical framework that provides grounding for the pedagogical tools of experiential learning, storytelling, and mental map making to empower students to discover and recover their sense of place. When students have the opportunity to tell their own stories in ways that support and validate their lived realities, they cultivate fertile ground for their narratives of place. Such an approach encourages different understandings of how people make sense of the world and their place in it. To accomplish this, I first discuss the importance of cultivating a sense of place in empowering students to decolonize history. I then reflect on my own teaching experiences in two courses. First, I reflect on storytelling and mental maps as pedagogical tools that encourage students to understand the various ways people experience the environment. Second, I reflect on experiential learning activities that can de-center the environmental "canon" and allow students possible pathways to understand how power influences the ways people encounter their environments in distinct ways. I conclude by offering narratives of place as a possible solution for developing a more critical ESS curriculum that better understands difference, diversity, and inclusion.

Zocher, J. L., & Hougham, R. J. (2020). Implementing ecopedagogy as an experiential approach to decolonizing science education. Journal of Experiential Education, 43(3), 232-247

Abstract: Background: The field of environmental education (EE) aims to produce an environmentally literate citizenry that is not only aware of environmental problems but is motivated to work toward their solution. However, much of the U.S. EE curricular focus has been on understanding the biophysical environment with rural populations, with little discussion about the environmental problems created by the dominant Western cultural norms. Purpose: Freire's ecopedagogical framework provides a framework for this discourse, yet there are few studies exploring how to put the theory to action. Experiential education's principles of practice provide a platform to help environmental educators make this shift. Methodology/Approach: This mixed-methods participatory action research study includes observations, 71 document reviews, 29 interviews, and 15 surveys. Findings/Conclusions: This study presents two unique curricular interventions that aim to disrupt cultural patterns of environmental oppression through the use of ecopedagogy. Implications: This work expands on conclusions drawn in research by Smith and Segbers which recommended both transcultural pedagogy and a willingness to move beyond traditional models of curricula. Specifically, White environmental educators and researchers must rise to the challenge of adopting and innovating ecopedagogies that empower youth to explore solutions in their communities.