Senior thesis profile: Gaea Campe

Shelly Le

Credit: Allie Felt

Major: Environmental Humanities

Thesis title: Sustaining Linguistic Diversity: An Ecological Imperative

“My thesis examines the interconnections between biodiversity and linguistic diversity and builds the argument that preserving the world’s endangered indigenous languages is an ecological imperative. Indigenous languages have been spoken in the same bio-regions for thousands of years and have accrued knowledge of those ecosystems that’s often beyond the scope and specificity of scientific literature.”

“[I also] argue that each language articulates the world in a different way. Because of that a multiplicity of languages means multiple ways of approaching environmental problems. Preserving language diversity contributes to the creativity and adaptive potential of environmental solutions.”

“I looked specifically at the Umatilla reservation, at how they’re using a program through the Department of Natural Resources called First Foods to integrate and adapt cultural knowledge into their resource management strategies.”

“There are roughly 7,000 languages spoken today and over half of them are not being taught to children, so I really wanted my thesis to look into how can we create adaptive, innovative solutions that empower native communities.”