Bridging the Divide: Exploring Native Approaches to Science Through Analysis of Implementation of a Complex Information Technology in Alaska Native Communities
This award funds the planning and preliminary development of a research project to study implementation of cutting edge information technology, a Fab Lab, in a rural Alaska Native village in southwest Alaska, Togiak. The Bristol Bay Campus, University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF BBC) and Alaska Federation of Natives (AFN) will partner with the Champaign Urbana Community Fab Lab and the Institute for Humanities, Arts, and Social Science (I-CHASS) of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) to implement a Fab Lab in Togiak, Alaska. This project was developed in collaboration with the Alaska Federation of Natives and the village of Togiak following the very successful demonstration project, funded by NSF ASSP, that introduced the Fab Lab concept at the annual Alaska Federation of Natives Convention in Fairbanks, Alaska 2010. The AFN Convention Fab Lab was successful in demonstrating that an operational Fab Lab could be set up in Alaska and that people, once introduced to the technology in action, would see its potential and would want to be a part of Fab Lab development in the state. During the convention, forty individuals from seventeen different communities around the state signed up for information on how to bring a Fab Lab to their community. Non-scientist participants were also able to observe how the world-wide-web can be used to share ideas and work on projects together and, in doing so, build global connections and use technology to develop capacity in even the most remote location. This project has strong potential for long term economic development among a population that has some of the highest official unemployment rates in the country due to lack of opportunity in these very remote regions of the state.