Indigenous Knowledges and Western Knowledges in Environmental Education: Acknowledging the Tensions for the Benefits of a "Two-Worlds" Approach


  • Julie Kapyrka Trent University
  • Mark Dockstator Trent University


Indigenous worldviews and Western worldviews stand in stark contrast to each other in many ways, including their perspectives regarding the Earth and her resources. Typically the differences between these two philosophies of life are highlighted and placed into an antagonistic relationship that seems irreconcilable. This paper upholds that within this tension there is a great opportunity for learning and for mutual understanding. We argue for using a "two-worlds" approach that engages both Indigenous knowledges and Western knowledges within environmental education. A "two-worlds" approach has the capacity to enlighten both educators and students and promote relationship-building between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples and their respective cultural understandings. Two worldviews can be drawn upon to create collaborative models and solutions to address our collective environmental challenges.

Author Biographies

Julie Kapyrka, Trent University

Instructor at Trent University in the Indigenous Environmental Studies Program. Instructor at Fleming College in the Ecological Restoration Program.

Mark Dockstator, Trent University

Professor in the Indigenous Studies Department at Trent University.