This project will focus on Central and South American indigenous epistemological frameworks and their relevance to U.S. intercultural education. (The "inter" in intercultural refers to an exchange rather than a mere plurality of cultural views.) Specifically, I plan to investigate the ways that Central and South American indigenous communities have conceptualized knowledge and education and the ways that some communities have put these pedagogical approaches into practice in contemporary educational institutions. I am particularly concerned with the lessons that Anglo-American educators might learn from indigenous pedagogies regarding how we might pursue intercultural education in U.S. universities in ways that do justice to people who have been excluded from dominant social and cultural institutions.
I will pursue these investigations by reading some contemporary theorists of indigenous epistemologies and pedagogies, especially writers who focus on intercultural education from indigenous perspectives. I also intend to complement this reading with a visit to a unique indigenous university in Quito, Ecuador, Amawtay Wasi University. This university is based on indigenous (Quechua) values and methodologies, but also aims to prepare engaged intercultural citizens.
The project will serve my professional growth by introducing me to entirely new worldviews and epistemic frameworks than those of the European traditions in which I have been trained. Through this study of indigenous attempts to establish indigenous-oriented educational institutions, I hope to gain fresh perspectives on the U.S. university and its cultural presuppositions. In particular, I hope to explore, both in theory and practice, new ways of integrating radically diverse cultural perspectives into the classroom.