Environmental Program Connects TCUs with the Pacific Rim

Feb 19th, 2015 | By | Category: 26-3: Global Indigenous Higher Education, Tribal College News
By Sarah Gross

Jonita Kerr of Guam Community College (center) explains to Daniel Buresh of Sitting Bull College and Jennifer Barry how trees have adapted to salt water at a mangrove forest on Guam. Photo by Sarah Gross

Pacific Island colleges are similar in structure and have many of the same issues as tribal colleges and universities (TCUs) in the United States. Institutions in Guam, Saipan, and American Samoa, for example, seek to develop, expand, and upgrade their environmental technology education programs. Such Pacific Rim colleges grapple with offering services to the primarily Indigenous students they serve. Through a National Science Foundation Advanced Technology Education grant entitled “Connecting Tribal and Pacific Rim Colleges to Improve Indigenous Environmental Technology,” the National Partnership for Environmental Technology Education (PETE) is helping connect TCUs with Indigenous-serving colleges in the Pacific Islands in an effort to help improve their environmental programs.

PETE offers a week-long summer faculty development program called the Indigenous Fellows Institute to provide instructors from Pacific Island and tribal colleges the opportunity to learn about Indigenous pedagogy, hands-on instruction techniques, and place-based curriculum that revolves around current environmental concerns. In 2013, fellows in the program learned about natural resource management on Guam. This past year, participants travelled to Fort Berthold Community College where they learned about the impacts of energy resource development in North Dakota. Currently, applications are available for instructors to apply to participate in the 2015 institute at Honolulu Community College, Hawai’i, to learn about climate change and its effects on Indigenous populations. In addition, Pacific Island and tribal colleges can submit applications for college- specific technical assistance. They can apply to receive assistance for conducting a local labor market assessment, developing a plan for student recruitment, tracking and retaining students, and for program assessment to help align current programs with the needs of the college’s service area.

By sharing best practices in how to deal with the many unique issues they face as a result of their locations and populations, Pacific Rim colleges and TCUs can benefit. For more information and to learn how you can participate, visit www.nationalpete.org/nsf-indigenouseducation/.

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