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Climate, Complexity & Decolonization Speaker Series

three headshots of speakers in the series are pictured: Chief Ninawa Huni Kui, Dr. Sereana Naepi, Dr. Sharon Stein

The Deans' office is excited to present our 2024 speaker series on Climate, Complexity, and Decolonization. Thanks to funding from the Gaines and Shaw Educational endowment and the Musagetes Foundation, we have been able to bring together a diverse lineup of speakers to the Faculty of Education at UVic.

Upcoming events

Nora's presentation has been postponed to September 2024. Please check back!

Past events

The WEIRD River: Navigating the Western Cosmovision

Date: April 23, 2024
Time: 1:00 pm - 3:00 pm PST
Location: ECS 104 and on Zoom

Presentation abstract: The anthropocentric worldview at the heart of modernity is rarely examined on its own terms. Its alleged universalism makes it challenging to scrutinize, especially since it has been labeled with many different names. Dr. David McConville, drawing on recent studies into Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, and Democratic (WEIRD) populations, encourages participants to envision this worldview as a river that has shaped the modern world. By illuminating its internal contradictions, paradoxes, and limitations, he explores the ongoing effects of this WEIRD river on the health and integrity of Earth’s living systems.

In this presentation, Dr. McConville shared a series of five short educational films and held space for discussion and feedback from the audience between each film. 

About the presenter: Dr. McConville’s work explores the potential of art, media, and storytelling to explore how worldviews shape worlds. He is co-founder and lead cosmographer of Spherical, a strategic design and integrative research studio working to regenerate the health and integrity of Earth’s living systems. He is also a founding member of the RIVER collective, where he co-facilitates their Illuminating Worldviews offering designed to contrast the Western cosmovision with other ways of being, knowing, and doing. Primarily of Scottish settler ancestry, he lives in the territory of xučyun (Huichin), aka the Lower Bottoms of West Oakland California, the ancestral and unceded land of the Chochenyo-speaking Ohlone people. 

'Navigating Complexities: Teaching Modernity, Colonization, & Climate Crises in the Pacific'

Event date: April 3, 2024
Time: 10:30 am - 12 pm
Location: Cornett B143 and on Zoom

Abstract: In the Pacific, teaching modernity, colonization, and climate crises is a daunting task steeped in historical trauma and present-day struggles. Modernity's introduction through colonisation disrupted traditional Pacific ways of life, leading to cultural erasure and economic exploitation. Colonisation's enduring legacy manifests in systemic inequalities and environmental degradation, exacerbating vulnerability to climate change impacts. Teaching about modernity, colonisation and the ongoing climate crises requires confronting uncomfortable truths about power dynamics, exploitation, and loss. It involves acknowledging the ongoing effects of colonisation on Indigenous communities, from land dispossession to cultural assimilation. Moreover, it demands reckoning with the harsh realities of climate change, from rising sea levels displacing entire nations to extreme weather events ravaging livelihoods. Teaching about colonisation, modernity, and climate crises in the South Pacific demands a nuanced understanding of the diverse experiences of students in the classroom. While some have long grappled with the direct repercussions of climate crises, others may possess limited awareness of the ongoing impacts of modernity's crises. This dynamic creates a delicate balance between acknowledging collective trauma and avoiding a patronizing saviour mentality.

About the presenter
Dr Sereana Naepi |Rutherford Discovery Fellow | Te Pūnaha Matatini PI | He Whenua Taurikura Research Associate | Senior Lecturer Waipapa Taumata Rau, The University of Auckland

Dr. Sereana Naepi, a Pacific researcher based in Aotearoa New Zealand, is deeply committed to improving education and research systems. With a rich academic background that includes Waipapa Taumata Rau | University of Auckland, the University of British Columbia, Thompson Rivers University, and Matada Research, Dr. Naepi now shares her knowledge by teaching sociology at both undergraduate and graduate levels. Her research focuses on promoting equity in higher education, using a blend of quantitative and qualitative data to uncover challenges within academia. Dr. Naepi's extensive knowledge and experience in Pacific research methodologies further enrich her work, allowing her to approach complex issues from multiple angles.

Beyond the Usual Debates; Creating the Conditions for Academic Freedom to Flourish

Thursday, March 21, 2024
2:30 pm -4 pm
MacLaurin D283

Abstract: Protecting academic freedom is an important element of protecting higher education as a site for rigorous, multi-voiced, and socially and ecologically accountable inquiry about contemporary crises. Yet the current polycrisis also presents many challenges that confound inherited modes of academic freedom and make it difficult to maintain generative conversations about contentious issues. These challenges include hyper-polarization, intergenerational tensions, complex struggles for social justice and epistemic authority, and more.

In this session, we considered how we might reframe the practice of academic freedom, including:

  • How do inherited modes of academic freedom both enable and limit the conversations we can have in and about the university?
  • How might our approaches to academic freedom be more responsive to the context of the polycrisis and its multiple layers of complexity and complicity?
  • How can members of the university community expand our individual and collective capacity to have difficult conversations about social and ecological challenges?

About the presenter: Sharon Stein is an Associate Professor in the Department of Educational Studies at the University of British Columbia. As a white settler scholar, her research asks how higher education can prepare people to respond to ‘wicked’ social and ecological challenges in more relevant, responsible, and reparative ways. She is the founder of the Critical Internationalization Studies Network, a founding member of the Gesturing Towards Decolonial Futures Collective, and author of Unsettling the University.

Please note, this session was not recorded.

Chief Ninawa Huni Kui is a hereditary leader of the Huni Kui Indigenous People and the elected President of the Huni Kui Federation of the State of Acre, in the Amazon region. He represents 118 communities and a population of more than 16,000 people. The Huni Kui Indigenous People are part of the Amazon rainforest and risk their lives to protect it. Chief Ninawa has been a strong voice against false solutions to the climate crisis and a global advocate for placing the rights of nature and Indigenous rights and lives at the centre of the agendas of climate change and biodiversity loss. On February 22, 2024, he visited UVic as an ambassador of the University of the Forest and delivered two presentations:

Healing the Dis-ease of Separation: Embracing Reverence, Respect, Reciprocity and Responsibility

In this virtual presentation, Chief Ninawa offered new insights for navigating the complex challenges of our time, fostering a deeper understanding of our entanglement with nature.

University of the Forest: From Narrow Intelligence to Embodied Quantum Wisdom

In this in-person presentation, Chief Ninawa discussed an ongoing collaboration between UVic and the University of the Forest, focusing on the type of climate education that invites us to remember our embeddedness in nature.

Dr. Dwayne Donald visited UVic in January, having conversations with faculty, staff and students about shifting learning from “about” Indigenous peoples to learning “from” Indigenous peoples. Many current teaching practices have become inadequate in preparing students to face complex challenges, such as the climate emergency. As Dwayne shared, one of the ways we approach education is to be informational, loading brains with knowledge so that our bodies follow. When integrating Indigenous wisdom in our teachings, we can teach informationally AND how to relate to one another, the planet, and ourselves differently. Unlearning past patterns may help us find new ways to face complex challenges and a relational approach creates new opportunities to do so.

We invite you to watch "ôtênaw", a film documenting the oral storytelling of Dwayne Donald. Drawing from nêhiyawak philosophies, he speaks about the multilayered histories of Indigenous peoples’ presence both within and around amiskwacîwâskahikan, or what has come to be known as the city of Edmonton. Watch ôtênaw on YouTube.

Note: Recordings of Dr. Donald’s visits to UVic are available for viewing for faculty, staff and students only. Please reach out to if you are interested in accessing them.