Dr Lewis Williams is a scholar-researcher, educator and social innovator. Broadly speaking her work lies at the confluence of Population Health Promotion, Human Ecology (the relationship of human beings with the rest of the natural world) and the application of Indigenous and Intercultural epistemologies to these fields. She aims to bridge scholarship with socially innovative approaches to human-environmental issues in ways that draw on intercultural and inter- disciplinary approaches. Her work has a strong basis in transformational learning for which she uses a variety of participatory inquiry methods. It builds on earlier careers in community development and adult education, social work and public health (health promotion and mental health promotion) which were largely concerned with human well-being as influenced by social systems (family, community and institutional), and underlying social, economic and cultural determinants of health. During this period much of her work focused on human health disparities as these affected indigenous and other populations at the economic and cultural margins of an increasingly globalized world; experience which still remains very relevant to her work today.
Some of Dr Williams’ most interesting innovation work has been in the areas of community and organizational development. Her earliest innovation was the establishment of Women Experiencing Eating Difficulties (now called Eating Disorders Education Network), a socio-cultural and community empowerment approach to eating issue. A decade later in her role as the Director of the Prairie Region Health Promotion Research Centre, Lewis worked with a range of cultural communities and organizational stakeholders to facilitate the integration of indigenous and ecological approaches to human well-being as part of progressing the health promotion agenda in Saskatchewan. Today as Founding Director of KIN (Koru International Network) Lewis is supporting the re-centering of indigenous and intercultural approaches to human-environmental relationships through research and social innovation.
Born in Aotearoa New Zealand and of Ngai Te Rangi (Maori) and Scottish descent, Lewis holds a PhD in Social and Cultural Studies from Massey University and a Masters Degree in Public Health from the University of Auckland, New Zealand. Williams was formerly an Associate Professor, Native Studies, and Director of the Prairie Region Health Promotion Research Centre, University of Saskatchewan. Today she is the Founding Director of the
Koru International Network (KIN), an emerging community of practice whose aim is to address ecological issues through the revitalization of indigenous worldviews within all cultures; an Adjunct Professor with the School of Public Health, University of Saskatchewan; an Executive Board member of the Society for Human Ecology; and an Executive Board member of the Canadian Peace Research Association. Her scholarship and practice is motivated by the radical change in the human condition we so deeply need at this time.