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!
Environmental and Sustainability Education in Teacher Education (ESE-TE) remains a critical challenge for faculties of education across Canada. At a time when the impacts of climate change, biodiversity collapse, mass migration, and food and water shortages are increasingly evident throughout the country (Worldwatch Institute, 2018), the roles of educators at all levels of our education system are imperative to help Canadians make cultural and societal shifts to more sustainable forms of living. Teacher educators are key actors in this, given their influence on the education and training of pre-service and in-service teachers.
This special issue of the Canadian Journal of Environmental Education (CJEE) invites Canadian teacher educators to share their research on ESE-TE to raise and strengthen the profile of this developing field. Although not exhaustive, several questions arise: How are teacher educators in faculties of education contributing to this shift, from policy, praxiological, philosophical, theoretical, conceptual, methodological, curricular, and pedagogical standpoints? What lessons are being learned? What evaluations are being made? How are they impacting the field as a whole? What challenges are slowing down progress in this field?
The call was inspired by the Research Roundtable on Environmental and Sustainability Education in Teacher Education, hosted as part of the Canadian Network for Environmental Education and Communication’s (EECOM) annual conference in Cranbrook, BC. All Canadian teacher educators and scholars doing research in this area are welcome to submit works for review in any of the related discourses, for example – Environmental Education, Education for Sustainable Development, Environmental and Sustainability Education, Place-based Education, Sustainability Education, Nature-based Learning, Eco-Justice Education, or Traditional Ecological Knowledge and Wisdom, in relation to Teacher Education.
For more information, please contact Susan Docherty-Skippen (firstname.lastname@example.org). Please submit manuscripts through the CJEE author submission process – noting that the manuscript is for the ESE-TE themed issue. Guidelines for submissions, e.g., word length, publication style, etc., can be found on the CJEE website: http://cjee.lakeheadu.ca
Deadline for submissions is February 28, 2019.
Dr. Yovita Gwekwerere is cross-appointed between the Laurentian University Faculty of Education and School of the Environment. She offers a course in Environmental Education that is open to all students at Laurentian as an elective, for twelve weeks. Half of the class is usually Concurrent Education students, so it can really be an interesting and dynamic mix of backgrounds and expertise in the course. A core component of the course is getting the students outside and into the community, exposing them to local organizations that can support them as teachers and concerned citizens. Yovita has noticed that a really impactful experience for her students comes out of a very place-based practice, when they learn the Sudbury Story. Sudbury, Ontario, has a history of mining and logging, and the subsequent pollution that devastated the landscape. Thirty years ago, a successful regreening project began in the city, bringing in help from local and international scientists, and local community involvement, bringing back trees, air quality and other enhancements. Most students often do not know the Sudbury ecohistory. After learning some of the details, they also participate in a guided hike at the Jane Goodall Conservation center where they get to see one area that was left “ungreened” intentionally to highlight what improvements were made by the collective action between scientists and citizens. Many students comment after the course that they were greatly impacted by the hopeful message of the Sudbury Story. They also note that it is important to know the impact of humans on our natural environments so we don’t repeat the same mistakes. To learn more, contact Dr. Gwekwerere at email@example.com.
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.
How can community partnerships enhance ESE in teacher education? OISE’s Dept. of Curriculum, Teaching and Learning aims to find out. OISE is collaborating with the Toronto District School Board’s EcoSchools program to integrate preservice and inservice professional learning on ESE on a broad scale to explore the benefits of bringing novice and experienced teachers together. This is not a new idea, as Faculties of Ed often lead workshops for teachers, and teachers model ESE for teacher candidates during practicum. What makes this collaboration innovative is its scale and commitment. Unfolding over three years, this initiative involves a wide variety of workshops, talks, and experiential events; a cohort of teacher candidates focused on ESE; an annual conference and Ecofair; practicum placements; an Action Research team; and intensive summer courses. It aims to support learning in a range of ESE traditions, including nature-based learning, place-based ed, eco-justice ed, as well as include a strong presence of Indigenous ways of knowing. A 3 year research study is investigating the experiences of all of the participants. This ambitious project hopes to demonstrate new ways for school boards and Faculties of Education to collaborate on meaningful, impactful approaches to moving ESE forward. For more info on this project: https://www.oise.utoronto.ca/
The Bachelor of Education at Cape Breton University (CBU) in Sydney, NS has recently developed a Sustainability Concentration for some of the program participants. This concentration came out of rising focus on sustainability education that works hand-in-hand with the efforts to Indigenize the curriculum. The melding of Indigenous and sustainability education came together in ways that were expected because of the many intersections of these two approaches to teaching and learning, namely through community- and place-based education.
In order to develop the four courses that represent the concentration in sustainability, the program leads, over time, connected with local First Nations communities. The Eskasoni Mi’Kmaw Nation is about 40 km outside of Sydney and Membertou Nation is in Sydney. The new program emerged in 2009, and the leads knew they wanted First Nations education included, so they reached out to the communities and created dialogue. A First Nations concentration also emerged, with the focus on language preservation – also a strong sustainability issue – so the four course concentration in FN emerged at the same time as sustainability. Both evolved and intertwined organically.
Dr. Darren Hoeg was charged with leading a one-off session on Environmental Education, embedded in the intensive teacher-preparation course for Secondary Science teacher candidates at the University of Alberta. He had 90 minutes to get a feel for the group of up to 100 students and turn their minds on to both the issues of the environment and how to tackle them through Science teaching. He turned to a real-time class survey to get the class thinking and participating. Using the Kahoot application platform, Darren asked the students nine different questions with four possible answers. They were able to interact using their smartphones or other digital devices. After each question, he used the anonymous results to lead a brief discussion. The questions touched on concerns of individual choice, dependence on technology and the Oil Sands, among others.
As the complexity of questions increased, from a social and philosophical standpoint, and with only 20 seconds allowed to respond to each question, there were fewer responses as the survey progressed. For example, the first question, about food choices, asked: When I make grocery purchasing decisions, I consider the following in my selection: Local (23%), Organic (13%), Price (59%) or Non-GMO (5%). Results are shown in parentheses. For this question 56 of the 58 participants responded. In contrast with a later question, only 44 of the 58 students responded:
Brock University has been running an optional course on Outdoor and Environmental Education (OEE) over a number of years. Most recently two sections ran in the fall of 2017. The teacher candidates represented PJ, JI and IS levels as well as both programs, namely consecutive and concurrent education.
For one of the courses, lead by Professor Doug Karrow, the teacher candidates were engaged in intersectional learning on conservation, invasive species, local ecosystems, taking action and incorporated elements of design technology. They were immersed in discussions on the history and current of conservation in Environmental Education, and then introduced to the role of bats in our ecosystem in southern Ontario, as natural pest controllers and pollinators, among other things. They were then introduced to the invasive species, white-nose fungus, which has a detrimental impact on the wellbeing of many bat species. Continue Reading