First off I want to start by saying that the Academic Research Consortium has been a challenge since day one! Someone once told me, “If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you.” So I consider this experience to be one to develop from, to grow from, and to learn from.
I am working with the prestigious Dr. Gerardo Aldana from the Chican@ Studies department and also with Rudy Mondragon, a very knowledgeable, inspiring, and dedicated Graduate Student within the department. Our work is centered on taking an Indigenous inspired approach to a problem and analyzing how it may be applied to provoking interest in the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields for Underrepresented Youth (URY). The participation of Underrepresented Racial Minorities (URM) in STEM fields is dismal and I think that by provoking interest in the K-12 educational environment, there is a chance that more URY will become invested in wanting to participate and pursue an advanced degree in STEM fields. Not only is their participation in STEM lacking, but their participation in postsecondary education is also scarce. Dr. Tara J. Yosso depicts the Chicana/o pipeline in her book Counterstoreis.
Can you believe that less than one Chicana/o student graduates with a Doctoral Degree?
How is interest to be provoked? Well, before I could really get there, first I needed to decolonize my mind so that I had a better idea of how to employ a to be approached in an Indigenous manner and also to make visible the contemporary effects of colonialism and imperialism in Academia. Western ideologies are always considered to be the ones that “work.” In other words, western research is privileged at an institutional level. Indigenous knowledge has been dismissed for centuries and its erasure is being coerced through the acquisition of patents on “intellectual property rights” everyday. Smith’s book goes further into discussion as to how imperial research affects Indigenous peoples and how western ideology is not the only “correct” way to approach research, it is also certainly not meant to dismiss western ideology either. There were multiple perspectives that were provided through literatures reviewed such as, subaltern studies, Chicana feminis, poststructuralist, and decolonial methods. I emphasize heavily upon the work of Linda Tihuwai Smith oin her book Decolonial Methodologies. Western research can still be applied, but in a way that serves to be productive and useful for communities that help develop t.
I was inspired by her book to construct an “Indigenous Inspired Framework” that could be applied to provoke interest in STEM for URY. Coupled with Culturally Relevant/Responsive Pedagogy (CRP), I believe that this framework would be effective in reaching out to students in the K-12 range. Some projects that inspired this framework were the ones described in Smith’s book: Testimony, Storytelling, and Sharing. How it would work is that we would need a witness to identify their experience in the STEM fields to testify. Through this Testimonio (Testimony) we can construct a narrative and proceed to intervene by delivering this to URY. What comes after is envisioning a future where the disparity in STEM education is not as dismal and we start to see more URM attain degrees in STEM fields. Envisioning aids in creating a goal and eventually pursuing these goals. Sharing the knowledge obtained through tetimonies and storytelling serves a s a form of resistance (Smith).
There is definitely more work to be done and a lot can be found by examining people who have ultimatly been disenfranchised from being able to speak on their experience with complete agency. There was a potential candidate that refused to provide testimony, but this provides us with this question: How do we gain access to a voice that has been silenced?