Weaving Strands of Knowledge: Connecting Culture and Science to Climate Change

Program Abstract

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This project will engage two culturally distinct communities, rural New England and Bhutan, in conversations and knowledge sharing focused on urgent issues of environmental sustainability.

An international team of 10 university students—five from University of New Hampshire and five from the Royal Thimphu College—will collect personal stories of the impact environmental changes are having on people’s lives through interviews with community members in rural communities in Vermont, New Hampshire, and Bhutan. Students will then co-curate their collection both during face-to-face cultural exchange visits and over a virtual platform. This work will help global community members merge scientific data with local narratives of climate change, help college students understand the importance of weaving different knowledge systems to facilitate community-based science learning and conversations, and bring international communities together to create programming that enhances understanding of environmental sustainability in the face of climate change. 

Between January and May of 2017, the ten undergraduate students will work together virtually learning about each other’s cultures, the science of climate change, and how narratives can be used to better understand people’s perceptions of sustainability issues. In May of 2017, the U.S. team of Montshire Museum staff, UNH faculty, and UNH students will travel to Bhutan to work directly with their peers collecting stories of climate change from members of the public. In July 2017, the members of the project from Bhutan will travel to the Upper Valley and spend two weeks working with their American peers interviewing farmers, hikers and other members of the public to collect their personal stories. 

The project will conclude with community event days at the Montshire Museum of Science in Norwich, Vermont and at the Folk Heritage Museum, in Thimphu, Bhutan on July 29. During this two community events, members of the public will have a chance to engage in the conversion around climate change and sustainability and listen to the stories collected by the students.