Science vs. Indigenous Knowledge in Natural Science Education with Dr. Aviaja Lyberth Hauptmann, PhD

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Event Date

Feminist Research Institute

Science vs. Indigenous Knowledge in Natural Science Education - the case of the SILA biology program in Kalaallit Nunaat (Greenland)

A presentation on the SILA biology program at Ilisimatusarfik – the University of Greenland from Associate Professor Aviaja Lyberth Hauptmann, who is the lead designer of the first biology program built specifically for the Greenlandic context. The program was recently (Fall 2023) funded and will welcome the first cohort of students in February 2025. The program emphasizes the different meanings of the Greenlandic word sila: outside, mind and weather, prioritizing above all student well-being and motivation. The program is the first of its kind in Greenland and has been received with overall positive responses but also with some skepticism from particularly scientists, who are challenged by the inclusion of mental health considerations, Indigenous knowledge and Inuit culture as integrated parts of a natural sciences program. 

Dr. Aviaja Lyberth Hauptmann, PhD, is an Inuk [Inuit from Greenland] biologist working through the lens of microbiology to understand the microbial, historical and cultural relations between humans (Inuit) and the Arctic. In recent years, her work has expanded into questions on Indigenous food sovereignty for Arctic Indigenous peoples as well as Indigenous education for Greenlandic youth. Aviaja was recently promoted to associate professor at Ilisimatusarfik - the University of Greenland. Aviaja also holds a part-time assistant professorship at the Globe Institute, the University of Copenhagen. As part of her training as a microbiologist (University of Copenhagen 2012) and Ph.D. in metagenomics (Technical University of Denmark 2017) and before an ongoing process of unlearning helped by a postdoctoral position at the University of California, Davis (2020-2022), Aviaja was a biotech entrepreneur and a public debater in Denmark.

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