The Indigenous sustainability studies program — one of the few of its kind anywhere in North America — offers a unique academic experience that brings indigenous perspectives into environmental sustainability initiatives.

What is Niizhoo-gwayakochigewin?

Launched in 2018, Niizhoo-gwayakochigewin — an Ojibwe phrase that means “two ways of doing the right thing in the right way” — unites interdisciplinary traditional and modern views of sustainability.

Bemidji State’s Niizhoo-gwayakochigewin programs aims to deepen the understanding of sustainability by offering a ground-breaking major and minor in Indigenous sustainability studies, graduate student positions and summer internships.

Why Major in Indigenous Sustainability Studies?

Bemidji State’s Indigenous sustainability studies program is designed for students who want to solve sustainability problems using Indigenous knowledge and modern science.

Students in BSU’s Indigenous sustainability studies degree program will take core environmental and Indigenous studies courses along with several new interdisciplinary courses that are grounded in Indigenous ways of knowing. This foundation guides students as they choose from the extensive list of elective options in fields related to wildlife biology, community health, the Ojibwe language, tribal government and many more.

For more information about the courses in this program, visit the course catalog.

Research and Hands-On Learning Opportunities

Indigenous sustainability studies students and Niizhoo interns have access to a variety of fun, interdisciplinary and hands-on learning opportunities. Students can build relationships with the following organizations and programs:

  • Indigenous Environmental Network
  • Northwest Indian Community Development Center
  • Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe Division of Resources Management
  • 1854 Treaty Authority
  • Red Lake Department of Natural Resources
  • Great Lake Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission
  • Connections with tribal colleges
  • Indigenous local plant and food sovereignty activities
  • Language revitalization initiatives
  • Intergenerational teachings and protocols

One-of-a-Kind Experiences

When modern science meets an Indigenous lens, unique problem-solving possibilities bloom. At Bemidji State, we’re not just revolutionizing sustainability, we’re doing it in a culturally informed way that integrates Indigenous knowledge systems and practices.

Bemidji State student curriculum team for the indigenous sustainability studies program“We’re trying to get people to understand the worldview of other cultures and then incorporate that thinking into the process so that we don’t have conflict at the end. We have people coming together and talking to each other, and finding solutions for the problems that they face.”

— Dr. Carl Isaacson
Associate Professor

Read about how Bemidji State draws on Indigenous practices to teach 21st century sustainability

Careers in Indigenous Sustainability Studies

The Indigenous sustainability studies program prepares students for a wide range of careers that value diversity, sustainability and Indigenous knowledge.

Graduates of our program can pursue careers as an:

  • Conservation technician
  • Environmental health worker
  • Environmental specialist
  • Groundwater specialist
  • Land surveyor
  • Natural resources manager
  • Tribal natural resources manager

Students who pursue the Indigenous sustainability studies degree have interned with Ojibwe Immersion Academy in Cloquet, Indigenous Environmental Network, North American Bear Center, Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe DRM, Red Lake DNR and Panthera Olympic Cougar Project.

More career outlook information from Career Services. If you are interested in student employment or internship opportunities, check out our jobs and internships page or Handshake, which is managed by Bemidji State’s Career Services.