Date of Award

Winter 12-18-2019

Level of Access Assigned by Author

Open-Access Thesis

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Ecology and Environmental Sciences


Darren Ranco

Second Committee Member

John Maddus

Third Committee Member

Noelani Puniwai

Additional Committee Members

Mindy Crandall

Linda Silka


Until seven years ago, there were few mechanisms in place within theWabanaki communities to keep Native students connected from middle school through college if an interest was sparked in the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields. On average, less than 50 percent of Native Students graduate from high school. The past six years, the Wabanaki Youth in Science program (WaYS) has become a "bridge" for students to learn more at the secondary level about STEM fields. The next phase in the academic journey to aid student learning is to develop a model educational program that will increase Native youth learning in post-secondary education. Research has attributed some of this learning challenges to a lack of inclusion, an educational framework developed by predominately White institutions, and the influence of the dominant ideology. Utilizing qualitative and quantitative methods, this study charted the value, or not, that inclusion of cultural science (CS) enhanced learning for Native and non-Native youth to increase learning within academics and future careers. It is important to understand the short -term research followed the changes in beliefs for Native and non-Native students as it revolved around the relationship of cultural science to western science within a specific course. Can the addition of CS into western academics, not as an add on, but as an integrated component have a significant impact on non-Native youth? Linked into this, many federal organizations require collaboration with Indigenous working groups. Can non-Native youth familiar with and understanding the cultural relevance to the environmental issue lead to a better decision-making process? This research looks at mechanisms to create the paradigm shift to benefit Native and non-Native students as it relates to inclusive ideology of learning directed at environmental sciences in college. Keywords: Native American, cultural science, Traditional Ecological Knowledge, postsecondary college, STEM, WaYS