Cultural Studies of Science Education

, Volume 12, Issue 1, pp 97–118 | Cite as

The cognitive relevance of Indigenous and rural: Why is it critical to survival?

  • Karim-Aly S. KassamEmail author
  • Leanne M. Avery
  • Morgan L. Ruelle
Original Paper


Using two case studies of children’s knowledge, this paper sheds light on the value, diversity, and necessity of Indigenous and place-based knowledge to science and engineering curricula in rural areas. Rural contexts are rich environments for cultivating contextual knowledge, hence framing a critical pedagogy of teaching and learning. Indigenous and rural place-based knowledge are nuanced and pragmatic in character, and offer solutions to both local and global challenges. Two case studies, drawn from the experience of Lakota and Dakota communities and rural New York State, demonstrate the need to conserve, transmit, and contribute to Indigenous and rural knowledge through experiential and place-based education that bridges the gap between children’s knowledge and global STEM. This knowledge is inherently diverse in its complexity and connectivity to habitat, and when viewed in this light, has the capacity to transform our perspectives on educational practices and policies as well as our overall outlook on conserving both ecological as well as cultural diversity worldwide. Because diversity and knowledge are necessary for the survival of life on this planet, an enriched concept of pedagogical pluralism, in terms of multiple ways of knowing, is a necessity.


Diversity Indigenous knowledge Children’s rural knowledge Practical wisdom (phronesisLakota and Dakota 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Karim-Aly S. Kassam
    • 1
    Email author
  • Leanne M. Avery
    • 2
  • Morgan L. Ruelle
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Natural Resources and the American Indian & Indigenous Studies ProgramCornell UniversityIthacaUSA
  2. 2.Department of Elementary Education and ReadingSUNY OneontaOneontaUSA
  3. 3.Department of Natural ResourcesCornell UniversityIthacaUSA

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