Use of Indigenous Knowledge in Environmental Decision Making by Communities in the Kumoan Himalayas

Open Access
Honwad, Sameer
Graduate Program:
Instructional Systems
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Date of Defense:
July 13, 2009
Committee Members:
  • Susan Land/Christopher Hoadley, Dissertation Advisor
  • Christopher Hoadley, Committee Chair
  • Susan Mary Land, Committee Chair
  • Scott Mc Donald, Committee Member
  • Kenneth Tamminga, Committee Member
  • Multicultural Education
  • Himalayas
  • Rural Communities
  • Environmental Education
  • Intergenerational Knowledge
  • Indigenous Knowledge
This study is designed to find out how people in rural communities residing in the middle Himalayas use indigenous knowledge to support environmental decisions while addressing water– and land use–related concerns. The study not only serves to enrich our understanding of community decision-making, especially as connected to land use and ecological issues, but also helps us understand how youth in village communities in the Himalayan bioregion negotiate a balance between indigenous and exogenous knowledge. Using qualitative methods including interviews, field observations, and focus groups, the research examines discussions and activities leading to decision-making about environmental issues in the communities residing in the Kumaon region of the middle Himalayas of India. The study helps answer the following questions: o In the Kumaon region, what is the relevant indigenous knowledge used to make decisions about specific environmental issues such as land management and water management? o How much of this indigenous knowledge is used by adult community members while making decisions about the environment? o How much of this indigenous knowledge is passed on to the future generation (process of intergenerational knowledge transfer)? o How will youth make use of indigenous knowledge in relation to exogenous knowledge while trying to negotiate issues related to their environment? In answering these questions, this study serves to deepen our understanding of how communities in the Himalayas balance the influx of modernization/globalization and engage in decision-making toward environmental sustainability. It supports a better understanding of how to design curriculum and environmental education programs for learning in communities of the Himalayan bioregion, and perhaps also offers some valuable direction for designing environmental conservation and education programs for the developing world.