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Adler University to host best-selling author Robin Wall Kimmerer to discuss ‘Braiding Sweetgrass,’ decolonization of education

University News | 01.05.24

Adler University is welcoming best-selling author and scientist Robin Wall Kimmerer on Jan. 16 for its latest Common Book Author Talk to discuss her award-winning nonfiction book, Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants.

Image of Braiding Sweetgrass coverA member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation and MacArthur Fellow, Kimmerer will also speak with Brianna Savage, manager of Community Action and Engagement at Adler University, on ways to decolonize education by integrating Indigenous and western knowledge. A Q&A with Kimmerer will follow their discussion.

Adler students, staff, and faculty, along with the general public, are encouraged to register for the Common Book Author Talk, to be held virtually at 2:30 p.m. CT.

“This is a special opportunity to hear directly from a best-selling author who combines scientific knowledge, indigenous wisdom, and the teachings of plants,” said Ariel Orlov, Library and Learning Services senior director. “Kimmerer’s book and teachings directly relate to the University’s Transforming the Curriculum Initiative, and I hope the Adler community joins us for this important conversation.”

The Transforming the Curriculum Initiative seeks to address the narrowness of a too often white-centered curriculum and ensure that every class and program (on all three campuses) effectively addresses issues of justice and human diversity.

In Braiding Sweetgrass, Kimmerer draws on her life as an indigenous scientist, a mother, and a woman to show how other living beings—asters and goldenrod, strawberries and squash, salamanders, algae, and sweetgrass — offer us gifts and lessons, even if humans have forgotten how to hear their voices.

Through her reflections, Kimmerer circles toward a central argument: that awakening a wider ecological consciousness requires acknowledging and celebrating our reciprocal relationship with the rest of the living world. Only when we can hear the languages of other beings will we understand the earth’s generosity and learn to give our own gifts in return.

In 2014, Kimmerer received the Sigurd F. Olson Nature Writing Award for Braiding Sweetgrass. In 2020, Literacy Hub named it a “Best Essay Collection of the Decade.

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