Indigenous Science Seminar

Posted 14 July 2020

The School of Chemistry was excited to host Dave Harrington as a part of our school seminar series. Dave’s seminar topic was, ‘Researching, Teaching and Communicating Cultural Sciences’. The seminar was originally scheduled to coincide with NAIDOC week, that has now been moved to 8-15th November 2020 due to Covid-19.

Abstract: Indigenous peoples around the world use a rigorous and systematic approach to solving problems, answering questions and obtaining resources from the natural world. This approach, often termed Indigenous Science, Indigenous Ways of Knowing or Traditional Ecological Knowledge, predates Western Empiricism and the scientific practices of the Asian, South Asian and Middle Eastern peoples. It represents a fascinating and valuable repository of information. However, as Western scientists working and studying within a tertiary institution, how can we engage with, study and learn from Indigenous science in a way that is ethical, culturally sensitive and respectful? This seminar will detail some of the differences between these various scientific practices and explore some of the ethnobotanical and other knowledge of Australian Aboriginal peoples by profiling the speaker's research with Aboriginal people around Australia. It will then profile some approaches to cultural consultation and ethical engagement used in both research and education before exploring some opportunities for chemical investigations appropriate for the classroom and laboratory. 

Speaker bio: The author, Dave Harrington, has over 20 years of experience in ethnobotanical and cross cultural scientific research and education with Indigenous peoples around Australia. This research career has allowed him to develop close bonds with Aboriginal communities and elders and has led to a role collaborating and communicating on the cultural interface. Today he largely provides consultation and training to teachers regarding integrating Aboriginal scientific knowledge into primary and secondary education through the National Education Standards and Assessment Aboriginal Education and Wellbeing team. This role includes providing cultural and scientific educational activities to schools with young Aboriginal educators and consulting with Aboriginal organisations about engagement and inclusion in education. Dave is a keen surfer, biker and sword fighter who enjoys gardening, bushcraft, camping and the outdoors.