Contributed by Anna Varga and Jigme Dorji
The third Emerging-Ethnobiologist Workshop was held at the College of Natural Resources, Lobesa, Bhutan from May 27 to 30, 2014. Anna Varga from Hungary and Olivia Sylvester from USA/Canada (the ISE student representatives) organized the workshop with the help of local host cum ISE member Jigme Dorji. There were five International one local mentors, as well as several guest speakers who facilitated the three day workshop attended by 27 participants from 20 countries (Australia, USA, Canada, Ireland, UK, Hungary, Tajikistan, Bhutan, New Zealand, Japan, France, Nepal, Ethiopia, Caribbean, Taiwan, India, Mexico, Brazil, Zambia, Romania, Mongolia, Guyana).
The goals of this workshop were to:
- create a space where participants could enhance their understanding of the methods and ethical approaches used in respectful biocultural diversity research, and
- establish a sense of global community both among the emerging ethnobiologists as well as between the emerging and mentors.
The four day workshop included three days of in-house lectures and a one-day field trip.
The lectures included: Ethics and research partnerships by Kelly Bannister; Indigenous research methods and protocols by Verna Miller; Balancing practical and academic research outcomes by Jon Corbett; Ethnobotany break by Gary Martin; Sharing our experiences as emerging professionals; student presentations and contribution by Om Katel; Supporting a new generation of ethnobiologists by Alain Cuerrier; Gross National Happiness Survey by Center for Bhutan Studies and GNH, by Karma Wagdi and Pema Thinley; Field trip to the watershed of Wangdue, Lemuteykha villages, lead by Thinley Jamtsho, Principal Engineer from RNR Research Centre and the wonderful Bhutanese dishes by our cook, Yonten.
The pre-congress workshop for emerging ethnobiologist was founded in 2010 with the aim to foster international connections among emerging ethnobiology professionals and to establish a support network of mentors. Four years after its founding, the third workshop saw participants from all across the globe (27 participants from 20 countries). This is a huge success for the ISE in terms of meeting the long-term vision.
In Lamai Goempa at the congress venue, the participants from the past two workshops joined the current participants for a get-together dinner at the Swiss Guesthouse. It was like family coming together after years of separation. We found strong networking among the emerging ethnobiologist group.
The feedback from the participants indicates that the emerging ethnobiologist workshop is a forum beyond networking. It is a platform where social norms and culture can be shared at the individual level.
The common message that many participants left after the workshop was that it has been a better learning place than any class room could provide.
For CNR, hosting the workshop for emerging ethnobiologists was an experience in itself besides bringing economic benefits. The Director General of the College expressed his satisfaction for being able to host such an international workshop, first the first ever of its kind. The college is connected to 20 other countries across the globe.
“The future of ISE is Bright” one of the participants wrote in the feedback. The interpretation of the statement could be many and vary from person to person. But here, for sure it means that potential of emerging ethnobiologists to support the ISE in the future. The success of the ISE as a global, collaborative network of individuals and organizations will depend on successful emergence of ethnobiologists worldwide.
One of the participants felt that the workshop was a relaxed learning environment. For many emerging ethnobiologists, it has been a productive break from the busiest stage of their life. Yet they go back home with satisfaction, knowledge and memory. This is an indication the that emerging ethnobiologist workshop makes a difference. The ISE should continue to support this pre-congress event and prepare their future leaders.
We would like to acknowledge the following organizations and people:
- The Director and the staff of the College of Resources, Lobesa, for hosting the workshop and giving us logistic support.
- The Organizer of the Congress – the Ugyen Wangchuck Institute for Conservation and Environment (UWICE) for supporting the logistic arrangement.
- The Bhutan Trust Fund for Environmental Conservation for funding the workshop.
- The International Development and Research Centre of Canada (IDRC) grant to help fund our workshop.
- Campus Hungary TÁMOP 4.2.4 program for supporting Anna Varga’s cost.
- The Planning committee of the student workshop for the guidance and advice.
- All the mentors for their guidance throughout the workshop.
- The Managing Director of the ISE – Ms. Natasha Duarte for her exceptional interest and support to the workshop right from planning to end.
We would like to thank all the participants for their active participation and lively interaction. We had a wonderful time with you!!!
- For further details about the International Network of Emerging Ethnobiologists, please visit the INEE website.