Posted By:
Kathy Dye
Kathy Dye
Published On: October 24th, 2022

Free event to be offered in-person, virtually

(All Lectures)

Sealaska Heritage Institute (SHI) will sponsor a lecture on working with Indigenous communities to foster meaningful environmental research as part of its fall series.

In his lecture, Co-producing Environmental Knowledge with Communities: Prospects and Reflections, Professor Thomas Thornton will discuss an evolving approach to developing effective science and policy to address complex problems at the intersection of environment and society.

The practice of co-production emphasizes engagement with local communities as partners in research, monitoring and other knowledge-building activities, Thornton wrote. As a process, co-production holds the potential to build more relevant, accurate and credible scientific research by engaging diverse Indigenous and local expertise in the design, implementation, application and assessment of research to ensure that its products are meaningful and responsive to societal needs, thereby improving buy-in and impact.

Thornton’s presentation will draw on personal reflections of co-production processes in Southeast Alaska and describe a new study to be undertaken by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine to assess the co-production of environmental knowledge models and practices to provide guidance for researchers, communities and funders to best employ this promising approach.

Thornton was trained in environmental anthropology at the University of Washington, where he received his Ph.D. in 1995. Since then, he has taught at the University of Alaska, St. Lawrence University, Trinity College, Portland State University and Oxford University. He was also a visiting scholar at Beijing University, Beijing Normal University, the University of Hokkaido and the University of Kent.

He is currently the director of the Board on Environmental Change and Society at the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine and an affiliate faculty member of the University of Alaska Southeast Alaska Coastal Rainforest Center. He has collaborated on many research projects and publications on human-environmental interactions, mainly in Alaska. Thornton has authored/edited seven books and numerous articles on topics from a sense of place to hunting, gathering and fishing knowledge and practices to climate change and adaptation.

The lecture is scheduled for 12 pm, Thursday, Oct. 27, in Shuká Hít within SHI’s Walter Soboleff Building, 105 S. Seward St. in Juneau. The lecture will be livestreamed and posted on SHI’s YouTube channel.

Sealaska Heritage Institute is a private nonprofit founded in 1980 to perpetuate and enhance Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian cultures of Southeast Alaska. Its goal is to promote cultural diversity and cross-cultural understanding through public services and events. SHI also conducts social scientific and public policy research that promotes Alaska Native arts, cultures, history and education statewide. The institute is governed by a Board of Trustees and guided by a Council of Traditional Scholars, a Native Artist Committee and a Southeast Regional Language Committee.

CONTACT: Kathy Dye, SHI Communications and Publications Deputy Director, 907.321.4636,

Caption: Photo of Tom Thornton, courtesy of SHI. Note: News outlets are welcome to use this photo for coverage of this story. For a higher-res image, contact

Share This Post, Choose Your Platform!

Share This Post, Choose Your Platform!