Dimensions of Culturally-Intensive STEM Education: Looking to the Source

Dimensions of Culturally-Intensive STEM Education: Looking to the Source

Jonathan Baker (Chaminade University of Honolulu, USA), Kahoaliʻi Keahi (Chaminade University of Honolulu, USA), Jolene Tarnay Cogbill (Chaminade University of Honolulu, USA), Chrystie Naeole (Chaminade University of Honolulu, USA), Gail Grabowsky (Chaminade University of Honolulu, USA), RaeDeen Keahiolalo (Chaminade University of Honolulu, USA), Alex J. Stokes (Chaminade University of Honolulu, USA & University of Hawai`i at Mānoa, USA), and Helen Turner (Chaminade University of Honolulu, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-7736-3.ch009
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Disenfranchisement of indigenous Pacific voices from STEM limits self-determination and the development of Pacific-led solutions to regional challenges. To counteract this trend, Chaminade University's Inclusive Excellence program delivers culturally-sustaining STEM education focused on sense of belonging and family/community engagement. It seeks to authentically enculturate curriculum, pedagogy, and practice to privilege and separate Western and indigenous epistemologies and to provide deeply immersive non-academic support. This chapter discusses the imperatives for sustained, system-wide commitment to culture-based STEM education, theoretical and cultural frameworks guiding this paradigm, examples of IE program processes and practices, and a review of outcomes. Finally, next level challenges are considered: student experiences in structurally racist systems beyond the Pacific support bubble, tensions between providing opportunity and perpetuation of regional talent drains, and the implications of asking young scientists to balance cultural and professional identities.
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In this section, we address the context and imperatives for sustained, system-wide commitment to culture-based STEM education, through discussing Kānaka ʻŌiwi1 disenfranchisement from STEM, the institutional context and mission-driven imperatives influencing our work, and background on Chaminade’s IE initiative and other efforts to transform STEM. We feel there is a strong need for these changes to STEM higher education, and that our work sits at the nexus of multiple concerns; these include equity of access to higher education and equity of success in professional careers for indigenous and marginalized peoples, social justice for empowering indigenous and marginalized voices to address regional and global concerns that impact Pacific communities, and improvement of the STEM endeavor overall through broader inclusion of underrepresented communities and groups.

Key Terms in this Chapter

IE: Inclusive Excellence; this initiative was developed by the Association of American Colleges and Universities (the AAC&U) and seeks to expand the scope and reach of DEI efforts across American campuses. See Williams, Berger, and McClendon (2005) for more details.

Kanaka ?Oiwi: Indigenous people of the islands of Oceania; see Endnote 1 for further discussion of how this term is being used in this paper.

Kanaka Maoli: The indigenous people of the Hawaiian Islands.

STEM: Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics; these disciplines are often grouped together and targeted by initiatives to address underrepresentation and lack of inclusion.

Epistemology: A way of knowing; how knowledge is generated and evaluated, what counts as knowledge, how one knows what one knows.

Coloniality: Structures and practices derived from settler colonialism and colonial governance that continue to influence social institutions and relations in the present, even though they originally are derived from an era that many now believe is in the past.

Culturally Sustaining Pedagogy: An asset-based pedagogical approach that seeks to support cultural pluralism through sustaining (rather than suppressing) the cultural ways of being of communities of color ( Paris and Alim, 2017 ; see also Paris, 2012 ).

Enculturation: In general, the process of learning the norms, beliefs, and values of a culture; in our specific context, we use it to mean the process of infusing Indigenous knowledge and values into our STEM curriculum.

DEI: Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion; this acronym is commonly used by granting agencies such as the National Science Foundation.

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