The ISE’s 4th Pre-Congress Workshop for Emerging Ethnobiologists
Written by Robin Wild and Karly Burch

img_1770It was our pleasure to serve as the ISE’s student representatives for two years and to plan the ISE’s 4th Pre-Congress Student Workshop for Emerging Ethnobiologists. To briefly summarize our activities over the past two years, we spent our first six months as student representatives brainstorming a plan for the Emerging Ethnobiologists Workshop with the aim of including participatory video as one major component. In March 2015, we started reaching out to the organizers of the Congress and thinking of our venue and workshop themes.

From May 2015 we began building an advisory committee to assist in workshop planning and developed our workshop theme: “Three-Eyed Seeing: Exploring Methods and Theories for Improved Research in Ethnobiology.” We sent out an awareness raising document about the workshop as well as a call for mentors in November 2015. Following this, we began building up the workshop program as we waited to hear from interested mentors. Our core group of mentors were finalized in March 2016 upon which we began conversations to develop their various contributions to the workshop.

We had a few setbacks with finding the workshop venue, but were eventually introduced to colleagues at the Entusi Resort and Retreat Center in Uganda’s Lake Bunyonyi region. The Entusi Center is a daughter organization of the Global Livingston Institute and was an ideal venue for the workshop.

In February 2016 we began developing the website for the Emerging Ethnobiologists Workshop where we included information about the workshop, the application process, travel details, mentor profiles and later participant bios. The website can be found at http://emergingethnobiologists2016.weebly.com.

The 3 ½ day workshop took place from July 26th to 29th and was a great success thanks to the support of our three fabulous and fearless mentors (Verna Miller, Karim-Aly Kassam and Jon Corbett) and the creativity and open-mindedness of our eight workshop participants. In the span of 3 ½ days we not only found the time to discuss the concept of three-eyed seeing, ethics, and explore methods for emerging ethnobiologists, but we also went on three fieldtrips to experience ethics in action and also created a participatory video summarising our experience (which can be viewed at https://youtu.be/Jl3X_cj1wyo). We visited a local traditional healer and gained an insight into local healing practices, as well as a local village where crops ranging from sorghum, maize to sweet potatoes were grown. Our final field trip was to a small village high on the ridge of one of the hills surrounding Lake Bunyoni. This was to see the B’Twa, arguably the most marginalised and exploited Indigenous group in the area, with little to no access to land or long term employment. While it was a difficult fieldtrip, we learned a lot about their situation in conjunction with Entusi, and felt that the interaction contributed a valuable input into Entusi’s relationship to the people they work with in the area.

Jon Corbett visually documented the workshop and subsequent fieldtrips which can be viewed at https://goo.gl/photos/zwwTb8xn1LAHiPka7.

Overall, we really enjoyed our two-year term as student representative. It was a pleasure to serve on the ISE Board, and to develop what we felt to be a meaningful interaction for all involved.