Haskell Creating ‘Hot Shot’ ScientistsNov 15th, 2000 | By tcj | Category: 12-2: Land is Life, Tribal College News
American Indians rightfully take pride in the successes of their forest fire fighter crews. Haskell Indian Nations University hopes to produce a cadre of graduates who will become the nuclei of “hot shot” environmental science teams. “We hope these teams will earn reputations comparable to the hot shot forest fire fighters through their ‘earth medicine’ work to secure the environment for the seventh generation,” said George L. Godfrey, Ph.D., vice president for academic affairs at Haskell.
Earth Medicine is the name of a newsletter published by the Haskell Environmental Research Studies Center (HERS). But it also describes the new baccalaureate program in Environmental Science at Haskell, which admitted its first junior class of 19 students in August 1999. The new program aims to prepare American Indian and Alaska Native students to become warriors and policy makers prepared to deal with the myriad of environmental issues affecting tribal nations and communities.
Haskell’s four-year degree expands upon its associate natural resources degree program. Both focus on sustaining Mother Earth and restoring the environmental elements that human activities have forced out of balance, Godfrey said. The faculty of Haskell developed the environmental science program with the aid of National Science Foundation and USDA funding. Knowing that graduates will work between two worlds in their future careers, the faculty combined traditional indigenous philosophy with Western scientific principles.
Core course work ranges from Geographic Information Systems to Applied Mathematics for Science in one dimension and Biochemistry to Principles of Ecology in another. After completing the core requirements, students move into environmental biology or environmental chemistry. Degrees of specialization in given areas (e.g., botany, fisheries, air quality, etc.) are possible through collaborative programs with neighboring institutions. Numerous students have gained additional experiences and launched careers through federal internships and co-op programs.