This student conference on “Indigenous People, Climate Change, and Environmental Knowledge” is part of a series of events on Indigenous Peoples in the Americas during academic year 2011-2012 sponsored by the Americas in a Globalized World Big Idea. The May conference will feature two superb keynote speakers whose remarks will appeal to people well beyond the university community: Daniel Wildcat, a professor at Haskell Indian Nations University in Kansas; and Larry Merculieff, who now works with Seven Generations Consulting and has almost four decades of experience serving his people, the Aleuts of the Pribilof Islands and other Alaska Native peoples. These keynote lectures will be held on May 23 at 7 p.m. in the Many Nations Longhouse and during lunchtime on May 24 in the Fir Room of the Erb Memorial Union.

Indigenous people are disproportionately affected by climate change and natural disasters, yet they are often marginalized from policy and academic discussions. Moreover, discussion of indigenous people and climate change opens up much broader discussion about environmental epistemologies across diverse cultures, as well as environmental management, race and class dynamics, and the intersection of local, national, and global issues. To expose UO students and the broader university and public communities to these issues, Professor Mark Carey of the University of Oregon Robert D. Clark Honors College is organizing this conference along with a corresponding academic course.

Carey will teach the new upper division honors college course on “Climate and Culture in the Americas” during Spring 2012. A faculty grant from the Americas in a Globalized World Big Idea helped fund the preparation of this new course. Students enrolled in the course will learn about climate-culture issues throughout the Western Hemisphere and from the often-overlooked historical and human perspectives.The May 23-24 conference encourages students from a diversity of disciplines to present their research related to climate and culture in the Americas. Thanks to the efforts of co-organizer Kathy Lynn, at least three undergraduate students from tribal colleges will receive scholarships to attend this UO conference and present their research on climate change. All student participants will present their work in either oral paper panels or poster sessions throughout the day on May 24 in the Fir Room of the Erb Memorial Union.

More information about the conference and course, as well as application instructions (deadline March 1) for students interested in presenting their research and gaining valuable experience, is available at the conference website: http://uoclimateconference.wordpress.com/

Sponsors of the climate conference and Carey’s corresponding course include the Americas in a Globalized World Big Idea, the Center for Latino/a and Latin American Studies, the College of Arts and Sciences, Office of Institutional Equity and Diversity, Robert D. Clark Honors College, Latin American Studies, Environmental Studies Program, Climate Change Research Group, and other campus units.