Traditional and scientific knowledge

During the Symposium of OURANOS, many researchers demonstrated how models can help decision makers to develop mitigation and adaptation methods to face climate change. One of the lecturers briefly mentioned that researchers working on ice monitoring in Northern Quebec were providing formation to local communities, so that resident learn to collect data about the ice distribution and thickness themselves. Since we have been discussing a lot about scientists responsibilities to share their knowledge, I thought it would be interesting to push the discussion a bit further and that is why I sent you the article Climate Change in Northern Quebec : Adaptation strategies from Community based Research, which describes the integrated community-based monitoring program that was developed In Nunavik in order to study the variation of ice. By bridging scientific and traditional knowledge, the program aim to create a tool that will allow northern communities to get daily information on the ice state on which they depend for transportation purposes.

During our discussion session in ENVR 650, it has been argued that using multidisciplinary approach (this time meaning to gather together researchers that come from different disciplines on a specific topic) can represent an advantage in environmental studies. Thus, it seems that linking policy makers, scientists and local communities also represent a good way to improve both knowledge and policy making process.

What I really thought interesting about this program was the fact that the scientists involved had a real desire to make the information as accessible as possible. For instance, scientists collected comments from the users of the ice-monitoring tool to make it as user-friendly as possible.


As scientists working on a very specific topic, we, as a Prof. Sieber said, write papers that only 10 people or so can understand. Thus, I would really want to applause this initiative to share knowledge with people that have to deal with the issue that is studied. I also think it is a great idea to form these people so they can collect data by themselves. Even thought it may not be considered as being a specific responsibility of researchers, I think that the scientific communities should support and favour the democratisation of knowledge. After all, as Dr.Carpenter suggested it in his conference, education can be one of the more efficient tool to improve the condition of environment.


One Response to “Traditional and scientific knowledge”

  1. thecynicaloptimist says:

    Hi Guessewho,

    Thanks for posting on this seminar. When I attended I was as impressed with the effort to share information (though I wonder how diverse an audience he was speaking to) and by the magnitude of the problem they are dealing with. The arctic truly is a canary in the coal mine for global climate change, and the work of Ouranos/ArcticNet/Centre d’études nordiques is impressive indeed.

    I was especially interested in how changes have already taken place, and how their work deals a lot with adaptation to climate change as well as understanding what’s happening in the first place. We (Canadian society in general – the southerners!) may yet pay attention to the reactions and traditions of northern communities when they blaze a new path in adapting their societies to their changing environment.

    Of course we’ve dropped the ball in the past…