Earth as Relative: An Indigenous Lens for Sustainability in Higher Education, Part I

July 26 @ 12:00 pm – July 30 @ 2:00 pm EDT

 $195 | Register Here:

Attendee Engagement & Learning Outcomes

This workshop is designed for attendees to participate fully throughout the three days in exercises, discussions, personal reflection and planning so that they come away from the workshop with an understanding of potential next steps they can take on their own campuses. The format will include opportunities for participants to bring forward topics from their own experiences to inform the discussion and gain insight from the perspectives of the presenters as well as fellow participants.

Workshop participants will be able to:

  • Analyze their own attitude, behaviors, and beliefs regarding humans’ responsibility to the Earth.
  • Define key terms of the time such as: treaties, colonization, sovereignty, environmental justice, reconciliation, privilege, trauma, and the 7th Generation.
  • Describe Bemidji State University’s Wellness Model for Sustainability.
  • Compare the holistic (physical, mental, spiritual and emotional) ways that Indigenous people consider or interact with the environment with the evidence-based (linear, objective, and measurable) way that Western scientists consider the environment.
  • Identify and understand institutional racism and oppression found in education and analyze their impacts.
  • Cultivate skillful means of communication and mindful inquiry through educational awareness, listening, patience and action.
  • Consider a Land Acknowledgement for your workplace.
  • Create space for diverse voices and be a good ally.


Erika Bailey-Johnson, Sustainability Director, Bemidji State University

Erika Bailey-Johnson is starting her fourteenth year as the first Sustainability Director at Bemidji State University in Bemidji, Minnesota. She was also appointed the Coordinator of the People and the Environment academic program in 2016 and teaches one class per semester. She works in the Ganawendakamigaawigamig (Office of Earth-Caretaking or Sustainability Office). She completed her BA in Biology from the University of Minnesota, Morris in 1998 and her Master’s degree in Environmental Studies from BSU in 2006. Her background is in science teaching, and Erika and her husband taught for two years in Mexico and three years in Kuwait before returning home to Northern Minnesota. In 2014, Erika was named one of the top 40 under 40 business professionals in the region by Prairie Business Magazine, and in 2015 as one of the top 40 under 40 professionals in the Midwest working to accelerate America’s transition to a clean energy economy by Midwest Energy News. She speaks at regional and national conferences on BSU’s unique sustainability model which includes a wellness component and an emphasis on integrating Indigenous voices. She served on Governor Dayton’s Committee on Pollinator Protection from 2016 to 2018. Erika is currently on the board for Happy Dancing Turtle in Pine River and the alumni board for the University of Minnesota, Morris. She is a founding member of the City of Bemidji Sustainability Committee, and for the past three years has been the Director of the Niizhoo-gwayakochigewin project to integrate an Indigenous lens into campus sustainability work and academic programs and the Co-PI of Endazhi-manidoowaadak to work on race relations in her community. Her first book project was recently published and is a bilingual Ojibwe/English children’s book to connect children to the Ojibwe language and Mother Earth. Erika is an enrolled member of the Red Lake Band of Ojibwe.

Kathryn Gonzalez, Transformational Coach, Embodied Wisdom

Kathryn’s journey has been informed by a deep desire to understand and nurture the relationship between people and the land, and to inform the systems we create and the ways we walk on the Earth, individually and collectively. Like many, this journey has taken twists and turns that inform her current focus, which centers on the inner dimension of sustainability and is anchored in awareness-based social change practices. Kathryn completed her Masters’ degree in Forestry where she studied the Human Dimension of Forest Resources. From there she began a career as a Kundalini yoga instructor, blending contemplative practices and embodied awareness that informs change at the personal, collective and systemic levels. Transformation has been at the heart of her path of inquiry and she currently serves as a transformational coach to inform inner leadership practices that re-imagine our relationship with Self, others and the Earth.

Beth Mercer-Taylor, Sustainability Education Coordinator, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities

Ana Munro, English and Global and Cultural Studies Faculty, North Hennepin Community College

Ana Munro teaches Creative Writing, Nature and Literature, Global Literary Perspectives and Community Organizing at North Hennepin Community College in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota. Previously, Ana taught Creative Writing at Bath Spa University in England and English as a Second Language in Christchurch, New Zealand and Lyon, France. She worked as an investigative journalist for many years in the United States and the UK. Her book of poetry Above the Dance of Clouds, was published in 2014, and she is the recipient of the Wisconsin News Association Award for Journalism for her series on the theft and return of Strawberry Island to the Lac du Flambeau Nation, the UK’s Orange Prize for Fiction-Short Story, the James R. Carlson Fellowship from Eckerd College for innovation and creativity in fiction, and the 2017 James Farrell Re(Cognition) Award, which honors individuals who have made outstanding contributions towards advancing sustainability efforts in the Upper Midwest. In 2019, Ana was awarded the Education Minnesota Foundation in Excellence in Teaching and Learning to travel to Brisbane, Australia, to attend and present at the Australian Research in Education Conference, and learn more about Aboriginal education and Storytelling as research.

Ana has facilitated multiple sustainability, diversity, equity and inclusion trainings, events and workshops, including presenting at AASHE’s, AWP’s (Association of Writers and Writing Programs) and ASLE’S (Association for the Study of Literature and Environment) annual conferences and the New Zealand’s Association for Research in Education 2015 and 2018 Conferences on Maori Homelands. She is a graduate of Harvard University Graduate School of Education’s Closing the Achievement Gap Institute, and is a Doctoral Candidate of Higher Educational Leadership at St Cloud State University, focusing on creating systemic change in higher education for students of color and American Indians.

Ana loves reading books, looking for frogs and salamanders with her children in the forest, going for very long walks, traveling to remote places and is happiest outside in the middle of nowhere.

Shirley Nordrum, Extension Educator, Tribal, University of Minnesota Extension

Simone Senogles, Co-Director of Indigenous Feminisms Program, Indigenous Environmental Network

Any questions about the workshop?
Please contact Daita Serghi,