“Then the Nettle People Won’t Be Lonely”: Recognizing the Personhood of Plants in an Indigenous STEAM Summer Program

Nikki McDaid Barry*, Megan Bang, Forrest Bruce, Filiberto Barajas-López

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

In this paper, we explore the ways that a STEAM-focused summer program for Indigenous youth supported learning in accordance with Indigenous axiologies (what we value esthetically or morally), ontologies (what we believe to be real and how we enact those beliefs), and epistemologies (what we know and how we know it) or AOE. Part of these AOEs include enacting kin relationships through recognizing the personhood of more-than-human beings. We posit that (1) our socio-cultural, political, and ethical orientations regarding human-nature relations affect our behaviors and that (2) shifting the way we view nature (e.g., recognizing plant personhood) may be a powerful contributor to more equitable climate futures. We present a case study of the relationship between a human child, Talon, and a plant called Stinging Nettle. We specifically move to answer: Did the program design support engagement in the recognition of plant personhood? If so, in what ways? The paper describes six dimensions of recognizing plant personhood. Findings illustrate how the program design resulted in the development of a strong human-plant relationship. We discuss implications for STEM and climate change education in supporting ecologically sustainable living and decision-making.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)381-404
Number of pages24
JournalCognition and Instruction
Volume41
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology

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