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The Promise of Solutions from Increasing Diversity in Ways of Knowing: Educational Lessons from Meteorology, Ethnobotany, and Systems Ecology

Amy Freitag

Keywords: complex problem solving; creativity; ethnobotany; meteorology; systems ecology; ways of knowing

Abstract

The number of terms used for historically unrepresented types of knowledge in environmental management is large and growing. The emphasis on these “new” perspectives reflects a shift in how society values different ways of knowing. A primary reason behind this recognition of value is that fresh perspectives offer new problem framings, approaches to solutions, and linkages to other issues. Successes in collaborating across multiple knowledge domains have yielded new medicines, culturally appropriate regulations, and a better understanding of ecological dynamics, among others. These examples show the search for creative solutions cuts across disciplines, each of which has its own priorities, values, ethical practices, and approaches to knowledge creation. This review demonstrates how systems ecology, ethnobotany, and meteorology increase problem solving by legitimizing different ways of knowing. Pioneers in valuing nonscientific ways of knowing, they set the path forward for methods and theory used to inform research questions.

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