The American Educational Research Association conference, which took place in April in Toronto, was a great time for those working on the ESE-TE team to connect, discuss their research, and share it with a broader audience. Members of the ESE-TE Standing Committee were involved in a variety of presentations, helping to advocate for a presence for ESE in all levels of education. One of these highlighted the ways that ESE can take multimodal forms in preservice teacher education, which aligned with the theme of the conference. Paul Elliott (Trent) shared the benefits and challenges of integrating ESE with Indigenous Ed in a core preservice course, while Susan Gerofsky (UBC) highlighted the critical learning that takes place in UBC’s Orchard Garden with teacher candidates. Laura Sims (St. Boniface) analyzed community-based approaches to ESE in her faculty of ed, and Hilary Inwood (OISE) discussed the impacts of creating environmental art installations with teacher candidates. This session was very well-attended (with over 60 in attendance for a Sunday morning session), demonstrating the strong interest in ESE in Teacher Ed. There is talk underway of turning this into a book….stay tuned for more!
The recent Research Roundtable hosted by the ESE-TE committee of EECOM was a success! We welcomed over 70 educators and researchers to this event, which took place on Oct. 18 as part of the 2018 EECOM conference in BC. It was such a pleasure to meet so many people dedicated to learning about how to better integrate ESE into both preservice and inservice teacher education. The Roundtable hosted over 20 research presentations; a sincere thank you to all of the presenters! These provided an excellent introduction to the variety of research being done in ESE-TE across Canada, and initiated many conversations around the importance of teacher ed that permeated the wider EE conference. The day ended with three break out sessions focused on: Indigenous Ed and ESE; types of supports, resources, and professional learning needed in this area; and how best to move forward in this work. These drew on the experience and expertise of those in attendance to identify what is needed to broaden and deepen the work being done in ESE-TE.
Many who attended the Roundtable have asked for more info on how to get involved in this work. Here are a few suggestions:
At CSSE at the University of Regina last May there was a signature event with a focus on Climate Change, organized by the Canadian Association of Curriculum Studies (CACS). According to the promotional materials, the goal of the sessions was to address critical issues of today’s world in order to engage a non-academic public and to make scholarly ideas accessible to everyday Canadians. I was only able to attend the third part of the planned event, which integrated the arts into public climate change education.
Organizer Paul Zanazanian (McGill) commented that the event “examines the challenges of climate change from several disciplinary perspectives. Our goal is to provoke thought and discussion, and hopefully activism, on this topic that is so important to all of us.” The event was co-organized and performed as well by Kathryn Ricketts (U of Regina).
The Performative art pieces, as a walking tour with durational art-making, took place in the green space that runs along campus, on the banks of Wascana Lake. Kathryn Ricketts presented a dancing embodiment of her bird-character Remington. This anthropomorphized bird wore a fur coat and a rubber pigeon mask, and moving to an internal music, it intermittently gave out all of its birdseed, and then came back looking for food, but by then many of the onlookers had dropped the seeds into the tall grasses under our feet.
Another evocative performance, facilitated by Sarah Schroeter and her third year Drama Education students (Allene Bautista Chernick, Robyn Dyck, Erin Goodpipe, Tara Hanson, & Sara Salazar – U of Regina), invited us into a formal dinner set under the Joe Fafard statue “Mind’s Garden”. Each of the courses of the imaginary meal became more and more confrontational, including the grizzled spine of a deer and ending with the “ashes of our children”. The takeaway of these interactive performances was the sense of provocation, dissonance, and necessity; in tackling climate change education, we must prepare for engaging in pedagogies of discomfort and for preparing our teacher candidates for this new reality.
We’re getting support from many groups for ESE-TE; it is exciting to see this happening! In October members of our ESE-TE Standing Committee were invited to address the fall conference of the Association of Canadian Deans of Education (ACDE). Drs. Nicole Bell, Paul Elliott, Lucie Sauvé and Hilary Inwood spoke eloquently about the rationale for and praxis of ESE-TE in their Faculties of Education; this was supported by Dr. Nigel Roulet’s compelling talk about climate change and the important role education has to play in addressing it. Our timing was right – the Deans unanimously voted to write a new Sustainability Accord, a policy piece that will discuss the roles that Canadian Faculties of Education can (and should) play in ensuring a more equitable future for all living things on this planet. Check into the progress of this important policy on the ACDE’s website.
There is no doubt that Environmental & Sustainability Ed (ESE) is growing in Canada! We have formalized our national network of post-secondary educators dedicated to better integrating ESE into preservice teacher education – as of last summer, our group is now a Standing Cttee of EECOM, Canada’s premier national organization dedicated to environmental learning. This will provide a strong foundation from which to build our work; EECOM has been at it for over 25 years. We already have plans in the works to offer a research day on ESE in Teacher Ed as part of EECOM’s conference next October in Cranbrook, BC…more details coming next month!