What Does the Earth Ask of Us?

Dr. Robin Wall Kimmerer

State University of New York (SUNY), Distinguished Professor of Environmental Biology &

Award-winning Author of Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge

and the Teaching of Plants

Event Date: November 12th, 2020    |    Event Time: 12:30pm to 2pm EDT

Event Location: Zoom webinar


We are showered every day with the gifts of the Earth and yet we are tied to institutions which relentlessly ask what more can we take? Drawing upon both scientific and indigenous knowledges, this talk explores the covenant of reciprocity, how might we use the gifts and the responsibilities of human people in support of mutual thriving in a time of ecological crisis.


Robin Wall Kimmerer is a mother, scientist, decorated professor, and enrolled member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation. She is the author of Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teaching of Plants, which has earned Kimmerer wide acclaim. Her first book, Gathering Moss: A Natural and Cultural History of Mosses, was awarded the John Burroughs Medal for outstanding nature writing, and her other work has appeared in OrionWhole Terrain, and numerous scientific journals. She tours widely and has been featured on NPR’s On Being with Krista Tippett and in 2015 addressed the general assembly of the United Nations on the topic of “Healing Our Relationship with Nature.” Kimmerer lives in Syracuse, New York, where she is a SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor of Environmental Biology, and the founder and director of the Center for Native Peoples and the Environment, whose mission is to create programs which draw on the wisdom of both indigenous and scientific knowledge for our shared goals of sustainability.

As a writer and a scientist, her interests in restoration include not only restoration of ecological communities, but restoration of our relationships to land. She holds a BS in Botany from State University of New York Environmental Science and Forestry (SUNY ESF), an MS and PhD in Botany from the University of Wisconsin and is the author of numerous scientific papers on plant ecology, bryophyte ecology, traditional knowledge and restoration ecology. She lives on an old farm in upstate New York, tending gardens both cultivated and wild.


The Queen’s University Biological Station (QUBS) was recently awarded a Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) PromoScience grant. The PromoScience program funds research intended to encourage youth to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields. NSERC awarded QUBS with one year of funding to create unit plans designed to bring together Indigenous ways of knowing and being and environmental science and technology.  This project is intended to foster an appreciation for Indigenous knowledge in all students and the complexity and sophistication of these systems.  The project aims to be collaborative, drawing on the expertise of local Indigenous knowledge holders and educators, as well as faculty members from the departments of Biology, Environmental Science, Geography, and Education.  Through this collaboration QUBS plans to design three culturally responsive unit plans focused on grade 9 and 10 Ontario Science outcomes. Units will incorporate and explore some of the major issues facing humanity from both Indigenous and STEM perspectives: the biodiversity crisis, global climate change, traditional Indigenous knowledge systems and the environment, invasive species, and contaminants in the environment. After the unit plans have been piloted and refined, 10-15 min videos for each unit plan will be created.  QUBS will also offer a series of hands-on, land-based training opportunities at Elbow Lake for secondary school teachers. The units are designed to be taught on the land - based at the Elbow Lake Environmental Education Centre. We are also creating options so that the units can be taught on the land near schools should this be needed.

Robin’s visit will provide QUBS with guidance regarding how to bring Indigenous ways of knowing and being alongside Western scientific principles in the Ontario Science curriculum. This webinar is hosted during the weekly Queen's University Department of Biology  Ecology, Evolution and Behaviour Seminars and has been generously supported by the National Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC), the Queen’s Office of Indigenous Initiatives, and the Mathematics, Science, Technology, and Education (MSTE) Group at Queen’s. This generous sponsorship reflects the desire within the Queen's community and across Canada, to see the decolonization of knowledge production in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields.  

Five attendees to the webinar will be randomly selected and forwarded a print copy of New York Times Paperback Non-fiction Best Seller "Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teaching of Plants".  This event will be live and recorded on Zoom, and available for a short time on the QUBS Youtube channel.


The Mathematics, Science, Technology and Education (MSTE) Group at Queen’s, located in the Faculty of Education,  is a research and development team dedicated to improving teaching and learning in the mathematics, science and technology fields in schools and in teacher education. Started in 1989, its efforts to promote a greater awareness of the links that can be made between mathematics, science and technology, the advancement of accessibility to these fields, and education for social responsibility is visible in the many projects its members undertake, but also in the post-undergraduate and graduate courses in which its members teach. For example, MSTE members’ work on makerspaces, Problem-Based Learning as a learning model, and micro-bits and coding have been prominent in student learning experiences. In particular at the graduate level there is a course with a direct focus on the research and teacher practice of mathematics, science, and technology and the translation of curriculum policy into practice. Within the faculty members have championed environmental science with the Johnny Biosphere awards, and all things STEM working with the Frontenac and Lennox Addington Science Fair (FLASF), while outside of the faculty proper, MSTE members work towards the improvement of learning in projects such as rabbitmath.ca, and The Prime Radicals on television.  


To purchase Robin Kimmerer's books, please consider Goodminds.com, a  First Nations family owned business, located on the Six Nations of the Grand River. They are your leading source for purchasing vetted First Nations, Metis, Inuit, and Native American culturally appropriate and culturally authentic educational resources and products.  As a First Nations company, they are passionate about Indigenous education, and strive to provide only quality educational products and exceptional customer service. 



Sorry, registration for this event is now closed.

Please contact Sonia Nobrega at 6138763637 or [email protected] for more information.