Geoversity Odsomo Webinar Series

Welcome to our CSTI Geoversity Science and Culture Odsomo (place for learning /reading) Bi-Monthly Webinar Series!

 

This series is a collaboration between the CSTI in Nairobi, Kenya and Stanford University's Millennium Alliance for Humanity and the Biosphere (MAHB, pronounced "mob)

MAHB is a meeting place for global civil society leaders concerned with the interconnections among the greatest threats to human well-being. Geoversity is an online community (human ecosystem) for biocultural learning. Odsomo is a term from the Dholuo language which is multifaceted in meaning. Ot (singular) or Od (possessive pronoun) is a building. Somo is a place for learning that is understood to be a repository of knowledge. In Western culture, a knowledge repository is a library of collection of physical artefacts. In Dholuo culture, knowledge resides within the individual, hence, even if there are manuscripts or physical artefacts, there must be an interpreter of knowledge (a scholar or group of scholars). You can learn more about the close to 2,000 languages spoken on the Continent via this Harvard University link. UNESCO's General History of Africa online book series provides the opportunity to gain a deeper understanding on the cultural and scientific evolution across the Continent.

 

The cultural perspective which shapes the approach to science, technology and climate change discussions across African countries is distinct from other worldviews, despite common elements of understanding. As an example, the Western belief that environmental and social challenges are best solved by understanding the which technological solution is needed can be countered by the African belief that environmental and social challenges are best solved by understanding the culture and behavior of those affected by the problem. Both Western and African technology adopters need to understand culture and science. However, the preliminary steps to defining the problem and identifying the solution will differ. 

 

Not much is written, let alone codified, regarding African decision-making heuristics. Writing has always existed in African culture. However, the transmission of knowledge has always been believed to be best achieved through talking rather than reading. Knowledge must be contextualized and, therefore, the knowledge repository is the individual, not the manuscript. Sages (scholars) in African culture are men and women with the ability to accurately and objectively retell the narrative of how the knowledge was created while simultaneously explaining to the person inquiring how best to implement the knowledge while preserving cultural traditions.


Each digital Odsomo webinar begins with a presentation on a transdisciplinary topic that addresses new research pathways on how to reduce the negative impacts of human activities on the environment while simultaneously enhancing unique attributes of African society and economic growth. In keeping with the Odsomo discourse tradition, a speaker cannot speak alone, there must be others to echo what has been said using the lens of their own understanding and experience. Hence, every Odsomo webinar presentation is followed by discussant respondents representing the voice of industry, researchers, and community, then the open dialogue Q&A session begins.