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Connecting Science and Local Communities in Rangifer Research

- Connecting science and indigenous peoples' practice and knowledge in an increasingly interconnected world – identifying and responding to challenges to natural resource based livelihoods/Rangifer (reindeer & caribou) systems
NOVA PhD Course of 3 ECTS organised by Birgitta Åhman, SLU.
Dates and location: 10-15 August 2015 in Enafors, Sweden.

NOVA PhD Course in the reindeer industry.
Annette Löf

The course is organised in collaboration with IRSAE (International Research School in Applied Ecology) and financed by IRSAE, NKJ (Nordic Joint Committee for Agricultural and Food Research) and NOVA.

Are you in the field of reindeer or caribou research? Have you reflected upon how you interact with local communities and indigenous knowledge keepers in your research? For what reason and for whom is the research important and in what different ways can it be conducted? Are there specific ethical requirements for interacting with indigenous communities – and if so, how are these addressed? This course provides you with theoretical as well as practical tools and examples aiming to encourage you to pose critical questions and reflect upon methodologies and methods for collaboration and interaction with local stakeholders and indigenous communities.

Course description
The aim of this cross-disciplinary course is to foster transdisciplinary and critical thinking, collaborative skills and capability to interact over disciplinary and epistemological borders. A particular focus will be given to participatory and collaborative research methods, where researchers and non-academic knowledge keepers engage in co-creating processes, knowledge production and knowledge exchange concerning e.g. problems related to natural resource management and use.

The course encompasses the following broad topics:

  • The role and significance of reindeer and caribou for indigenous peoples in the North – e.g. the complex interplay between people, animals and the environment, aspects of identity, culture and values and the possible implications of conflicts and competing land use for ecosystem management
  • The role and significance of reindeer and caribou from an ecosystem service perspective – e.g. the mitigation of climate effects on tundra vegetation.
  • Research ethics in indigenous research with particular emphasis on Sápmi – e.g. what are the particular requirements for doing research in indigenous communities, who has a say and when formal ethical guidelines and procedures are lacking what are the alternatives for assuring ethically sound research?
  • Participatory research approaches – e.g. how can collaborative and participatory research projects be designed throughout different stages in the research process and be implemented in practice, what are some major challenges and how can these be addressed?
  • Research communication – e.g. testing different modes, tools and arenas for communication, how can results be made applicable and what responsibilities lies with the researcher?

The course will consist of lectures, group work, seminars and field visits. One day is scheduled for a field/study visit to a nearby reindeer herding community (sameby) with previous experience of collaborative research projects. The course starts on Monday morning and ends Friday night. The course is given in connection to the International Arctic Ungulate Conference in Røros, Norway, August 17-21 ( Participants at the course will have a unique opportunity to participate in and give presentations based on course work at the conference.

Expected learning outcomes
After the course the student should

  • have a good understanding of the present and historical role of reindeer/caribou in indigenous livelihoods, culture, society and natural resource management
  • understand and be able to analyse different contextual challenges for Rangifer based livelihood systems in different parts of the world
  • have a good understanding of the reasoning behind research ethics in relation to research linked to indigenous people
  • be able to employ different perspectives and theories to analyse transdisciplinary challenges in relation to natural resource based livelihoods
  • be able to listen to and understand goals of stakeholders and take these into consideration to formulate relevant research questions
  • be able to communicate own research with scientists from other disciplines as well as with stakeholders and related institutions.
  • be able to problematize issues of research design and stakeholder participation

In addition to seminar assignments and active involvement in the practical elements of the course, the final examination is preparing and delivering a presentation (oral or poster) at the end of the course. Students will also have the opportunity to give their presentations at the International Arctic Ungulate conference held in Røros, Norway, the week after the course (participation is optional).

Estimated workload

  • 15 hours seminars
  • 15 hours lectures
  • 10 hours study visit
  • 15 hours independent work
  • 40 hours preparatory reading and preparation for presentation

Prerequisite knowledge
Bachelor degree in Biological or Social science, including courses related to natural resource management or pastoralism

Admission for NOVA courses is handled locally by the course organiser/ the NOVA member institution organising the course.

Open for PhD students from all universities. Priority is given to students from universities that are partners of NOVA or IRSAE. The course is funded by NKJ, NOVA and IRSAE and is free of charge. Accommodation is included but not travels to and from course location.

Last day for application is Thursday May 21. Note of acceptance will be given within a week from this date.

Please see this document for additional information on the course.

Published 24. April 2015 - 13:52 - Updated 23. May 2017 - 19:21