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New faculty team to collaborate with Native Nations

November 8, 2018

The University of Wisconsin—Madison School of Nursing, School of Human Ecology, and Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies are currently searching for three new faculty members who are interested in creating meaningful and mutually beneficial partnerships with tribal communities and sovereign Native Nations through interdisciplinary research and outreach. While each school has a unique set of requirements for applicants, candidates with diverse academic backgrounds who enjoy collaborative research are encouraged to apply. In fact, the three new hires will join members of the UW-Madison American Indian Studies Program, the Native Nations_UW Working Group, and a number of other faculty and staff in ongoing efforts to develop collaborative programs with Native Nations and tribal communities.

The new positions are made possible thanks to the campus-wide, UW—Madison cluster hire program, which was launched in 1998 as a partnership between the university, state and the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) to provide departments with the initial support needed to build faculty teams that can address critical interdisciplinary research. Successful candidates hired as a part of this cluster hire will complement the work of cross-campus groups while furthering the goals set forth during a 2014 campus-wide meeting with representatives from all of Wisconsin’s Native Nations. During that meeting, leaders from the tribal communities of Wisconsin joined leaders from the UW System to discuss relationships, community concerns and possible ways to move forward together. The outcome of that meeting was the development of the Native Nations_UW Working Group and a strategic plan, which included the creation of a faculty team such as this.

“These hires will be transformational,” said Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies Director, Paul Robbins. “We are building a world-class team to promote partnerships in research, teaching, and service with Tribal communities and sovereign Native Nations.”

The goals for this particular cluster hire team include collaborating with tribal communities and sovereign Native Nations to improve environment and health practices, eliminate health disparities, and develop youth programs that strengthen family and community bonds. While the cluster hire faculty will work together to achieve these goals, each school or unit will be working with tribal communities to lead the way in a particular area of expertise. For example, the School of Human Ecology, will be leading youth program development.

“Improving life for children and families is the keystone of our work,” stated Dean Soyeon Shim. “And we are laser focused on recruiting and retaining Native American students and scholars. By connecting applied research with community-based wisdom, we have an opportunity to enhance youth development.”

Meanwhile, the School of Nursing, will be leading the way in terms of health practices and efforts to eliminate disparities.

“The faculty cluster hire is just one example of our commitment to the health and wellbeing of Native American populations,” says School of Nursing Dean Linda D. Scott. “We also have a recruitment and retention program designed to attract more Native Americans to nursing education and practice, and we co-host an annual one-day conference to reach more potential students and to support current nurses practicing in Native American communities.”

Likewise the successful candidate hired by the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies will be focusing on topics related to environment and health. Like other work in the Institute, the candidate's research is intended connect a wide range of environmental issues and disciplinary perspectives. Institute faculty come from backgrounds in physical science, humanities, biological science, and social studies, often working across disciplines to address pressing environmental issues related to air, water, land, biodiversity, political ecology, and other natural and human systems. Candidates with expertise in everything from ecology to economics, science to social studies, and anthropology to art are encouraged to apply and bring their expertise and leadership to this unique position, which will further UW-Madison’s commitment to developing collaborative programs with Native Nations.

“We want to do better and need to do better in engaging with Native Nations and incorporating their perspective and their local and indigenous knowledge,” said Nelson Institute Associate Director, Paul Zedler. “There are many things we can learn and a committee of faculty with interest in this area will help us to move forward with that mission.”

Applications are being accepted by all three schools with plans to initiate work in August 2019.