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Event Recap

October 22, 2020

Event recap | Data salon episode 5: Indigenous data sovereignty: opportunities and challenges

By Henry Westerman

View the full series here.

Event description

On Thursday, October 22, the GeoTech Center hosted the fifth installment of the Data Salon Series in partnership with Accenture to discuss the challenges to achieving data sovereignty for indigenous communities. The panel featured Dr. Tahu Kukuthai, Professor of Population Studies and Demography at the University of Waikato, Dr. Ray Lovett, associate professor of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Epidemiology for Policy and Practice at Australian National University, Dr. Desi Rodriguez-Lonebear, Assistant Professor of Sociology and American Indian Studies at UCLA, and Ms. Robyn Rowe, Research Associate and PhD Candidate at Laurentian University. GeoTech Center Director Dr. David Bray moderated the panel and the discussion that followed.

The leaders featured on the panel discussed their work in deconstructing colonial approaches to data collection and governance. As the panelists explained, typical Western-style data approaches not only fail to properly apply to the lives, cultures, and societies of indigenous peoples, but also misalign priorities in terms of indigenous understandings of communal identity and personal ownership. The panelists are therefore working, each within their own national and societal context, to construct new structures for data governance, which both better serve indigenous communities and might be more effective for empowering the wider population.

In one example, the panelists brought up the concept of biometric data: though an individual’s genomic code is considered personal property within Western frameworks, reflecting on the indigenous perspective, it is equally important to remember that DNA is shared with our ancestors. In communities where ancestral and familial ties are granted greater significance, and especially in societies where the privacy of the family is sacred, we must consider such data in a broader context. Indigenous approaches to data can improve not only ethical guidelines for governing data in an indigenous community but also equity for society at large.

Watch the full video linked above to learn more about indigenous approaches to demography and data ownership.

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Event Recap

Sep 17, 2020

Event recap | Data salon episode 4: Data science and social entrepreneurship

By Henry Westerman

On Thursday, September 17, 2020, the GeoTech Center hosted the fourth episode of the Data Salon Series in partnership with Accenture. The panel featured Ms. Valeria Budinich, Scholar-in-Residence at the Legatum Center in MIT’s Sloan School of Management; Mr. Derry Goberdhansingh, CEO of Harper Paige, and Mr. Bevon Moore, CEO of Elevate U.

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