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This interdisciplinary project will explore the valuable information Indigenous populations have on human adaptation to climate change in ecologically vulnerable areas of the Pacific.
The Indigenous inhabitants of the atoll nation of Kiribati are known for their unequaled vulnerability to the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and to sea-level change. The goal of this seed project is to send an interdisciplinary team of investigators from KU to research locales in the South Pacific island nation of Kiribati so that we can explore the breadth of environmental knowledge held by I-Kiribati, including their adaptation strategies to past and current climate change impacts using a mix of methods including ethnographic interviews, historical documentation, monitoring of coastal dynamics, and climate modeling.
This interdisciplinary project will explore the valuable information Indigenous populations have on human adaptation to climate change in ecologically vulnerable areas of the Pacific. In the physical and social sciences, it will focus on past evidence and processes of environmental change, as well as spatial and historical dimensions of Indigenous engagement with the environment. In the humanities and arts, it will examine questions of perception, representation, value, and belief, using written and oral sources, as well as iconography and dance as "archives" of Indigenous environmental understanding. These results will provide unique insights into interdisciplinary collaborations with Indigenous peoples in climate change research in the Pacific.