Gathering Moss by Robin Wall Kimmerer

This teaching resource was contributed by Christina Katopodis, Ph.D.

Core Text

Robin Wall Kimmerer, Gathering Moss: A Natural and Cultural History of Mosses (Oregon State UP, 2003).


Written from the perspective of a trained biologist and botanist who specializes in mosses and an author of Indigenous heritage (Citizen Potawatomi Nation), this book tells the story of mosses from all sides, through personal narrative and reflection, through science, and through Indigenous ways of knowing. It’s a stunning work of non-fiction, memoir, and natural and cultural histories.

Teaching Resources

Discussion Questions

  • What counts as “knowledge”?
  • How do our lived experiences inform our relationships to “knowledge” in school?
  • What can we learn from mosses and other plants?
  • Where is there room for storytelling in STEM and where is there room for science in the humanities and in storytelling? How does Kimmerer bring science and storytelling together to fill in the gaps of one with knowledge from the other? (Point to specific examples in the text if possible.)
  • How could higher education take steps to welcome and incorporate Indigenous ways of knowing into the core curriculum? What steps could be taken toward reparations? (See: Ian Austen and Dan Bilefsky, “Hundreds More Unmarked Graves Found at Former Residential School in Canada,” NYTimes, June 24, 2021. For deeper reading on this topic, see Zitkala-Sa’s stories about her traumatic experiences at boarding school in American Indian Stories.)