Images shows pieces of a puzzle, some which have been put together.

Framework for productive engagement of knowledge systems

By Virginia Capmourteres

GIER Affiliate Jeji Varghese coauthored a review paper that proposes a framework to facilitate cross-cultural engagement between communities that have a different understanding of what “knowledge” means. In particular, the paper focuses on what “knowledge system” means for Western and Indigenous cultures and how the concept applied in the ecology and natural resource management literature.

The authors found that, while mainstream in the scientific literature, the term “knowledge system” has been consistently used in a trivial way, lacking definition and context. At the same time, Indigenous scholars recognize that Indigenous knowledge is rich and culture-specific, and its spiritual, emotional, and relational nature can rarely be translated into other languages and cultures without losing meaning.

In an effort to provide an operational framework for knowledge systems, the authors put together a set of fundamental knowledge systems processes and roles that are commonly cited across disciplines. This operational framework proposes that knowledge systems include “basic hierarchical units” —namely data, information, knowledge, and wisdom— which go through processes of creation/acquisition, organization, validation, storage, transfer, and use at different sociocultural levels (individuals, communities, cultures).

Banner photo credit: Fabian Kühne on Unsplash

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