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Indigenous Knowledges and Perspectives on Climate Adaptation online course

This course developed by Royal Roads University invites learners into deeper thinking, reflection and content pertaining to indigenous perspectives in climate adaptation and mitigation.
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  • Level: Introductory
  • Time commitment: 25 hours
  • Learning product: Online course
  • Sector: multisector
  • Language: English
  • Certificate available: completion certificate; microcredential program in development


This course invites learners into deeper thinking, reflection and content pertaining to Indigenous perspectives in climate adaptation and mitigation. Ultimately, this course provides a space for you to consider how and where Indigenous leadership can not only restore better-practice across social and political landscapes, but also heal relationships with our shared planet for future generations to come.

The course was designed by a team of Indigenous knowledge holders, Indigenous and non-Indigenous subject matter experts, and instructional designers. No single course can cover the multiplicity of Indigenous perspectives, knowledge, voices, and cultural practices, so our aspirational goal for those who engage in this course, is that this will serve as a solid foundation from which to do more learning. Learning, of course, is the first step. But learning is only useful when it is translated into practice, and we hope that this course will encourage decolonized approaches to climate adaptation and climate action more generally.

Throughout the course there are hyperlinks to other excellent resources that elaborate further on specific ideas or concerns and suggested activities that we hope will deepen and extend the learning through practice and reflection. We also had the great privilege of interviewing five Indigenous knowledge keepers who generously shared their perspectives, wisdom, and expertise. The work of climate mitigation and environmental planning not only requires us to think our way into long-term solutions, but also asks us to feel our way into how we rethink values of respect, consent, dignity and care amongst all relations across our shared planet. The voices presented in this course represent vast and comprehensive knowledge expertise within the field of climate mitigation. They also represent and embody the teachings specific to their own specific lands, waters and territories. It is an honour and a privilege to include them as our teachers in this course and to centre their knowledge within the fields of climate mitigation and environmental futurity.

The Indigenous Knowledges and Perspectives online course material is available using the links below for self-learning but if you wish to attend a facilitated online course find details on the Adaptation Learning Network Portal.

Institutional background and trainers

Indigenous Knowledges and Perspectives on Climate Adaptation by Royal Roads University is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

This course is part of the Adaptation Learning Network: Inspiring Climate Action. This course is Creative Commons licensed and the content is free to use with attribution (for external links to resources, please review the rights and permission details).

This course is also offered as a facilitated online course by Royal Roads University. You can register on the Adaptation Learning Network Portal.

Who would find this useful?

The goal of the course is to support the capacity of non-Indigenous professionals working on climate adaptation projects and initiatives with and within Indigenous communities, to work in good and respectful ways. It is also envisioned as a general resource for others wishing to learn more about Indigenous worldviews and perspectives on climate change, the environment, and environmental management.

This course is part of the Adaptation Learning Network and was designed to support climate adaptation capacity building with a range of professionals working with adaptation including, engineers and geoscientists, planners, foresters, biologists, agrologists, landscape architects and representatives from five post-secondary institutions.

Training Material and Learning Outcomes

Module 1: Context & Environmental Management

Indigenous communities around the world experience the direct impacts of changing climate conditions, often not only needing to endure unprecedented changes to their traditional territories, landscapes and water-ways, but also the cultural practices and knowledge systems embedded in land-based relationships. Whether it be within the realm of climate adaptation or land management, Indigenous leadership and influence can enhance collective efforts towards the restoration of better-relations and practices with planet earth. By the end of this module, you should be able to:

  • Identify the Indigenous territories that you live in
  • Recognize the complexity of Indigenous cultures in Canada and the historical context that impacts our work today
  • Analyze the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Calls to Action that relate to your work and personal life
  • Value learning from the past in order to inform decisions made in the present and futureReflect on how learning from the past informs current decisions for future based outcomes
  • Determine how Indigenous knowledge regards the concept of interconnectivity and how this practice can inform Land and Climate-based actions
  • Listen to the voices of different Indigenous climate leaders reflect upon the impacts of climate change in their territories

Module 2: Climate Adaptation from an Indigenous Lens

This Module explores and presents diverse Indigenous-led responses and actions as it pertains to climate mitigation in their own languages, territories and practices. By the end of this module, you should be able to:

  • Relate what Indigenous communities are doing in terms of traditional and non-traditional methods of climate adaptation to your own work
  • Explore the multi-generational impact of climate-related decision-making
  • Consider the impacts of Indigenous-led research and climate adaptation leadership in response to emergent climate crises.
  • Examine the impacts of climate change on the social and cultural well-being of Indigenous communities

Module 3: Intersection of Indigenous Knowledge & Western Science

The purpose of Module 3 is to challenge conceptions which assume Western science is a dominant knowledge system within climate mitigation and environmental management. This module explores the notions of knowledge experts, place-based knowledge and collaborative learning opportunities through the recognition of Indigenous Knowledges as viable scientific bodies of expertise. This module invites learners to consider the ways in which Indigenous knowledge has been excluded from National approaches to climate solutions and to explore the ways in which Indigenous knowledge, knowledge keepers and leaders contribute to transformative models of climate justice and enduring resolution.By the end of this module, you should be able to:

  • Describe the significance of incorporating both Indigenous knowledge and Western science in climate adaptation projects.
  • Articulate the importance of centring Indigenous knowledge-keepers as experts.
  • Reflect on the ways that Indigenous knowledge related to climate adaptation may be considered as viable systems of scientific practice.

Module 4: Working with Indigenous Communities

This final module invites learners to deepen their own considerations within the realm of working with Indigenous communities within your own professional practice. It will present themes around culturally reflective collaborative work opportunities, decolonization of shared approaches, contemporary Indigenous governance and also developing our own critical self-location practice in our professional work.By the end of this module, you should be able to:

  • Appreciate that each individual community has different governance structures and cultural protocols, reflecting subjective knowledge systems from each community and Nation.
  • Recognize the importance of fully collaborating with communities as equal partners in climate adaptation initiatives.
  • Determine the importance of collaborative interactions and relationship-based learning opportunities with Indigenous communities.
  • Describe the practice of Critical Self-Location and be able to determine your own personal location within your current professional practice.
  • Identify different ways in which you can commit to your own actions of decolonization in your work and personal lives.

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