Sociological Imagination: Western’s Undergraduate Sociology Student Journal

Article Title

The Use of Traditional Ecological Knowledge in Contemporary Environmental Policy


As the environmental impact of the Western industrial complex becomes more disastrous for the planet, it has become obvious that Western science alone will not provide us with the answers to the environmental problems that plague us today. In recent years, the nature-centered Aboriginal practice of Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) has proven a useful tool when used alongside Western science to counteract the human-centered practices of modern industry, including Western environmental management, which sees the environment as a collection of commodities. This paper describes the concept of TEK and how it can be used alongside Western environmental management techniques to achieve desired outcomes for the Aboriginal TEK holders and for the people of the Western world. Two case studies are provided: the first involves the management of polar bears in the arctic, and the second describes a community-led forest management plan in Northern Ontario. In both cases, the targeted environmental problems are met with a blended approach that incorporates knowledge from both TEK and Western science to achieve the desired goals of all stakeholders involved.

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