Special Issue Introduction

Exploring the Role of Indigenous Knowledge in Postsecondary Policies and Practices Toward Sustainable Development


  • Marcellus Mbah
  • Ane Johnson Rowan University




Indigenous knowledge, higher education, open access, sustainable development


This article serves as the introduction to the Special Issue on “Exploring the Role of Indigenous Knowledge in Postsecondary Policies and Practices Toward Sustainable Development.” We begin by outlining sustainable development and the role of higher education in addressing sustainable development goals. We critique the epistemological assumptions that underlie sustainable development and that have led to its capture by Western development and science. We consider the importance of incorporating an Indigenous knowledge and practices into higher education in order to solve pressing social and environmental challenges. Finally, we discuss the reasoning for this issue and set forth a series of arguments for choosing an open access journal as an appropriate modality for this inquiry.


Download data is not yet available.


Aikenhead, G., & Ogawa, M. (2007). Indigenous knowledge and science revisited. Cultural Studies of Science Education, 2(3), 539-620. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11422-007-9067-8

Chankseliani, M., & McCowan, T. (2021). Higher education and the Sustainable Development Goals. Higher Education, 81(1), 1-8. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10734-020-00652-w

Chankseliani, M., Qoraboyev, I. & Gimranova, D. (2021). Higher education contributing to local, national, and global development: New empirical and conceptual insights. Higher Education, 81(1), 109-127. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10734-020-00565-8

Collins, C. S., & Kalehua Mueller, M. (2016). University Land-Grant extension and resistance to inclusive epistemologies. The Journal of Higher Education, 87(3), 303-331.

de Sousa Santos, B. (2007). Beyond abyssal thinking: From global lines to ecologies of knowledges. Review – Fernand Braudel Center for the Study of Economies, Historical Systems, and Civilizations, 30(1), 45-89.

Emeagwali, G., & Shizha, E. (2016). African Indigenous Knowledge and the sciences journeys into the past and present. SensePublishers. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-6300-515-9

Faciolince, M., & Green, D. (2021), One Door Opens: Another Door Shuts? Development and Change, 52(2), 373-382. https://doi.org/10.1111/dech.12633

Ferrer-Estévez, M., & Chalmeta, R. (2021). Integrating Sustainable Development Goals in educational institutions. The International Journal of Management Education, 19(2), 100494-. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijme.2021.100494

Guilherme, M., & Dietz, G. (2017). Interview to Boaventura de Sousa Santos. Arts and Humanities in Higher Education, 16(1), 17-27. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/1474022216680598

Higgs, P. (2010). Towards an indigenous African epistemology of community in education research. Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences 2(2), 2414-2421. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.sbspro.2010.03.347

Kumalo, S.H. (2017). Problematising development in sustainability: Epistemic justice through an African ethic. The Southern African Journal of Environmental Education, 33, 14-24. DOI:10.4314/SAJEE.V33I1.2

Leal Filho, W., & Brandli, L. (2016). Engaging stakeholders in education for sustainable development at university level (1st ed. 2016.). Springer. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-26734-0

Leal Filho, W., Frankenberger, F., Salvia, A., Azeiteiro, U., Alves, F., Castro, P., Will, M., Platje, J., Lovren, V., Brandli, L., Price, E., Doni, F., Mifsud, M., & Ávila, L. (2021). A framework for the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals in university programmes. Journal of Cleaner Production, 299, 126915–. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jclepro.2021.126915

Leal Filho, W., Shiel, C., Paço, A., Mifsud, M., Ávila, L., Brandli, L., Molthan-Hill, P., Pace, P., Azeiteiro, U., Vargas, V., & Caeiro, S. (2019). Sustainable Development Goals and sustainability teaching at universities: Falling behind or getting ahead of the pack? Journal of Cleaner Production, 232, 285–294. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jclepro.2019.05.309

Ferrer-Estévez, M., & Chalmeta, R. (2021). Integrating Sustainable Development Goals in educational institutions. The International Journal of Management Education, 19(2), 100494–. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijme.2021.100494

Mbah, M., Johnson, A. T., & Chipindi, F. (2021). Institutionalizing the intangible through research and engagement: Indigenous knowledge and higher education for sustainable development in Zambia. International Journal of Educational Development, 82. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijedudev.2021.102355

Meagher, K. (2021). Introduction: The politics of open access – decolonizing research or corporate capture? Development and Change, 52(2), 340-358. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/dech.12630

Piron, F. (2018). Postcolonial open access. In U. Herb and J. Schöpfel (Eds.), Open divide: Critical studies on open access. Litwin Books.

Rajão, R., Duque, R. B., & De’, R. (2014). Introduction: Voices from within and Outside the South—Defying STS epistemologies, boundaries, and theories. Science, Technology, & Human Values, 39(6), 767-772. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/0162243914542161

Ruiz-Mallén, I., & Heras, M. (2020). What sustainability? Higher education institutions’ pathways to reach the Agenda 2030 goals. Sustainability, 12(4), 1290. DOI: https://doi.org/10.3390/su12041290

Torabian, J. (2019). Revisiting global university rankings and their indicators in the age of sustainable development. Sustainability: The Journal of Record, 12(3), 167-172. DOI: http://doi.org/10.1089/sus.2018.0037

Trisos, C. H., Auerbach, J. & Katti, M. (2021). Decoloniality and anti-oppressive practices for a more ethical ecology. Nature Ecology & Evolution. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41559-021-01460-w

Turner, N. J., Marshall, A., Thompson (Edōsdi), J. C., Hood, R. J., Hill, C., & Hill, E.-A. (2008). “Ebb and flow”: Transmitting knowledge in a contemporary Aboriginal community. In J. S. Lutz, and B. Neis (Eds.), Making and moving knowledge: Interdisciplinary and community-based Research in a world on the edge (pp. 45-81). McGill-Queen’s University Press.

Ulmer, N., & Wydra, K. (2020). Sustainability in African higher education institutions (HEIs): Shifting the focus from researching the gaps to existing activities. International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, 21(1), 18-33. DOI:10.1108/IJSHE-03-2019-0106

Weisser, C. R. (2017). Defining sustainability in higher education: A rhetorical analysis. International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, 18(7), 1076-1089. DOI:10.1108/IJSHE-12-2015-0215

World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED) (1987). Our Common Future. https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/content/documents/5987our-common-future.pdf




How to Cite

Mbah, M., & Johnson, A. (2021). Special Issue Introduction : Exploring the Role of Indigenous Knowledge in Postsecondary Policies and Practices Toward Sustainable Development. Journal of Comparative &Amp; International Higher Education, 13(Summer), 7–19. https://doi.org/10.32674/jcihe.v13iSummer.3931



Issue Introduction