Programme / Renewed Hope in a Shared Future for the Planet – Mapping Western Science With an Indigenous Knowledge System

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Tuesday / 6 DEC

9:00 - 11:00

Side event:
Renewed Hope in a Shared Future for the Planet – Mapping Western Science With an Indigenous Knowledge System
Organised by:  ReImagine Science
Venue: Meeting Rooms 2.41-2.43

This interactive session emerges from a two year learning journey with individuals from the United States and Canada, exploring new ways of training scientists.  This work led us to recognize a gap between paradigms of Western Scientific approaches and Indigenous Knowledge Systems.  We will first share key insights from the learning journey itself. Then participants will embark with us on an experiential exploration of the systems of science and their focus on logic and ‘doing,’ missing fundamental principles of connection, ethics and courage.


We believe in co-creation between those within the system and the scientists that aspire to serve that system, be it health, environment, energy, agriculture or any number of things.  This co-creation approach aligns with an Indigenous Knowledge system.


An Indigenous model of knowledge based on the four directions posits North as Mind, East as Spirit, South as Heart, and West as Body – embodying the Mental, Spiritual, Emotional and Physical aspects of a conscious, sentient world.  The ‘Four Directions’ model has been used extensively by Ken Paul, who will lead the session.  North, or Mind, represents Knowledge Systems; East, or Spiritual, embodies the Environment; South, or Emotional, represents Biodiversity; and West, or Physical, represents Technology. We propose that balance across these four domains (and the four quadrants created between them) leads to actions that are sustainable, equitable, and nourishing.


Western Science is firmly rooted in technology and knowledge domains (Mind and Body), which deeply affects the resulting applications for our human and natural systems. We will map the four directions of the Indigenous Knowledge model and the Western Scientific paradigm familiar to most of the participants in the room, and will collectively explore where each of us sits in the circle, in relation to others. We expect a more holistic vision of science to emerge.