Barrett P. Brenton

Yeimiu - Cultural Heritage as an Avenue for Sustainable Community Development among Indigenous Shuar Communities in the Ecuadorian Amazon: Promoting Social Justice through Service-Learning and Community-Based Research

Barrett P. Brenton, St. John’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Department of Sociology and Anthrolopology, Center for Global Development; Ozanam Scholars Program: Paolo Rico and Sarthou Tagatac

Abstract
This presentation reviews results of ongoing community-based research and service-learning with indigenous Shuar communities in the Ecuadoran Amazon. A primary focus is the integration of Cultural Heritage as an avenue for supporting sustainable community development. Action-research areas to date include access to healthcare; water and sanitation; indigenous knowledge of food and medicinal plants; traditional arts and performance; youth and gender empowerment, and tri-lingual education (Shuar-Spanish-English). The project incorporates work conducted by undergraduate students in their Junior year of the St. John’s University Ozanam Scholars Program. In addition to an intensive service-learning component they are responsible for research that leads to applied community-based project proposals for use as strategies strengthening capacity building within and between Shuar communities. They are ideally planned to draw upon traditional Shuar values of cooperation (Yeimiu) and solidarity. The projects are suggested strategies for initiating more long-term sustainable development. Their design and implementation begins with the priorities that the Shuar have established. They are refined through dialogue within and between Shuar communities and future groups of Ozanam Scholars. The overall goal of the program is to promote social justice through an integral human development framework that can best serve the needs of the Shuar both effectively and with dignity.