Exploring consilience in the GBR

This May, I was privileged to co-instruct a field course with a dear friend and colleague, Dr. Chris Darimont, through UVic’s Department of Geography. Along with 15 bright and amazing students, we explored the theme of consilience – in particular, how western science and indigenous knowledge can run parallel or even overlap to achieve stronger stewardship objectives.

It was my first experience teaching. And it was magical. Together, we explored many of the landscapes that are dearest to my heart: Koeye, Hakai, and Goose Island. Students brought diverse backgrounds to bear on the values, ideas and solutions common to biology, ecology, environmental studies, geography, First Nations studies, resource management, political science, and even my background in literature.


What I want to share is this: Meaningful and authentic collaboration is possible. It has a language and a grammar that root our conversations in respect. It has basic principles that guide our interactions and teach us to navigate a route together. It is multidisciplinary, it is exciting, and it is a process that is never completed. That’s where the sweetness lies.

The other thing I want to share is this: The fifteen students who participated in our class are already leaders in their field, and they are growing to be experts on collaboration and engagement, authenticity and respect, and yes, on consilience. It was a pleasure dear to my heart to share this time with Chris, and I’m deeply grateful for everyone who was so gentle with me as I walked this path with them.


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