Decolonization and Transformation of Higher Education for Sustainability

Integrating Indigenous Knowledge into Policy, Teaching, Research, and Practice


  • Jing Lin University of Maryland, College Park
  • Angela Stoltz University of Maryland, College Park
  • Matthew Aruch University of Maryland, College Park
  • Annie Rappeport University of Maryland, College Park



higher education, decolonization, Indigenous Knowledge, sustainability


This article argues that institutions of higher education (IHEs) require a fundamental paradigm shift toward an Indigenous Knowledge (IK) model inclusive of Indigenous Peoples, perspectives, and values. This model acknowledges the sacred value of nature, the rights of non human species, and the power and potential of transformative learning via collaboration with Indigenous communities. Through four personal experiences from one IHE, we highlight challenges and opportunities to decolonize higher education across the domains of policy, research, teaching, and programs. Examples include the Graduate Student Government's resistance to university policies of unsustainable construction projects; incorporating IK from Eastern traditions and world spiritual practices into course curriculum; Indigenizing higher education courses and projects through inclusion and collaboration with local Indigenous tribal members; and finally, ongoing transnational research and education collaborations with an Indigenous Mebêngôkre-Kayapó community in the Brazilian Amazon.


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Author Biographies

Jing Lin, University of Maryland, College Park

Jing Lin is Harold R. W. Benjamin Professor of International Education Policy at University of Maryland, College Park. She received her doctoral degree from the University of Michigan. Lin has published more than a dozen books, from educational reform in China, to women teachers in Africa, to peace and sustainability education, and spirituality, religion and education.


Angela Stoltz, University of Maryland, College Park

Angela Stoltz is Assistant Clinical Faculty in the Center for Mathematics Education in the Division of Teaching, Learning, Policy, and Leadership at the University of Maryland, College Park. Her research and teaching focus on access and equity in STEM through the integration of non-Eurocentric people and perspectives.

Matthew Aruch, University of Maryland, College Park

Matthew Aruch is the Assistant Director of the Science, Technology, and Society Program and PhD Candidate in International Education Policy at the University of Maryland, College Park. His doctoral research investigates research and education based transnational, multi-sectoral partnerships in the Brazilian Amazon. 


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How to Cite

Lin, J., Stoltz, A., Aruch, M., & Rappeport, A. (2021). Decolonization and Transformation of Higher Education for Sustainability: Integrating Indigenous Knowledge into Policy, Teaching, Research, and Practice. Journal of Comparative & International Higher Education, 13(Summer), 134–156.



Summer 2021 Special Edition