After the positive response from the community to the Decolonizing Ecology seminar given by Dr. Madhusudan Katti in the spring, I organized the department to bring Dr. Katti in for a half-day weekend workshop on decolonizing ecology. With the help of Dr. Katti, Dr. Nicki Cagle (Assoc. Dean of DEI at the NSOE) and the lovely folks at the Forest History Society and Makus Empanadas, the Decolonizing Ecology workshop was finally held on December 3, with over 30 participants! I was incredibly thrilled to see such a response and follow-through from our ecological community. We held the workshop on location at the beautiful Forest History Society, but organizing the hybrid Zoom format was a unique challenge (I think it worked out okay; I'd rate our implementation at a solid B)
Decolonization is the active practice of "undoing [colonial] systems and ways of thinking" (Trisos et al 2021). Decolonization is not a metaphor or a stand-in for other diversity, equity, and inclusion work (Tuck & Yang 2012); it specifically centers on acknowledging and dismantling the history, present, and future of settler colonialism in our own scientific work. This workshop was centered around ecological research, and entailed (1) an overview lecture by Dr Katti about the tenets of decoloniality in research, (2) jigsaw-style breakout sessions in which attendees will discuss these tenets & challenges, and how they connect to individual research, and (3) a final discussion and debrief.
I'm really excited to see where this workshop takes us as a community. I know it is not the last step for us towards decolonizing our ecology, but it's a great next step. Hopefully we can host more of these events in the future to get more people thinking about decolonization. Read more about my decolonization thoughts here.