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Interdisicplinary symposium focuses on education and climate change

Interdisicplinary symposium focuses on education and climate change

Today, the shared experiences of those working in education and climate change is the central theme of a one-day symposium taking place at York University.

Organized by the Faculty of Education, the Institute for Research & Innovation in Sustainability (IRIS) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific & Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Chair for Reorienting Teacher Education Towards Sustainability, the Leadership for Sustainable Communities Symposium will focus on learning, leadership and climate change.

Leading experts from Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom will gather at York’s Keele campus for the symposium. They will share their experiences and expertise in the area of climate change with students enrolled in summer courses that address issues of sustainability. The focus of the symposium will be a shared dialogue to examine the intersections between education, leadership and climate change.

York Faculty of Education Professor Charles Hopkins (right) will open the conference. As the UNESCO Chair for Reorienting Teacher Education Towards Sustainability , Hopkins has developed and continues to coordinate an international network of institutions from 38 countries working on the reorientation of teacher education towards the issues inherent in sustainable development. Hopkins is also an adviser to both UNESCO and the United Nations University regarding the United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development, which began in 2005 and continues until 2014. A major contributor at previous UN summits on sustainability in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 1992 and in Johannesburg, South Africa in 2002, he authored Chapter 36 of Agenda 21 of the Rio Earth Summit Action Plan on Education, Public Awareness & Training. Previously, Hopkins was a superintendent with the Toronto Board of Education.

Following Hopkins' opening comments, David Greenwood (left), a professor in the Department of Teaching & Learning at Washington State University, will deliver the keynote address, titled “Nature, Empire, and Paradox in Environmental and Sustainability Education”. Greenwood conducts research on the relationship between environment, culture, and education; environmental, place-based and sustainability education; and alternative education. He has published widely in journals such as: Harvard Educational Review, Educational Researcher, American Educational Research Journal, Curriculum Inquiry, Educational Administration Quarterly, Environmental Education Research, Canadian Journal of Environmental Education and a host of other publications. Greenwood is working on his second book, which will examine place and education.

After Greenwood's address, a panel of scholars from IRIS, the Faculty of Environmental Studies and Osgoode Hall Law School will present their work as it relates to climate change.

Particpating in the panel are:

Dawn Bazely (left) is a professor of biology in York's Faculty of Science & Engineering, an ecologist and the director of IRIS. Bazely has conducted field research in many ecosystems, including arctic tundra, sub-arctic and temperate salt-marshes, deciduous forests, temperate managed grasslands and prairies, and her research findings on white-tailed deer and lesser snow geese have informed wildlife and conservation management in Canada. In 2003, she published a book on the ecology and control of invasive plants with Professor Judy Myers of the University of British Columbia. She is currently leading an interdisciplinary project based in Canada, Norway and Russia on human security in the Arctic, specifically the impact of oil and gas development on people and ecosystems.

Patricia (Ellie) Perkins (right) is a professor and program coordinator for the Faculty of Environmental Studies at York University. An economist who is concerned with the relationship between international trade, the environment and local economies, Perkins is interested in globalization and how local economies may grow as an antidote to international trade. She also looks at international means of controlling air pollution in the Arctic and at the metals and minerals resource industries. Perkins is the primary investigator of a Social Sciences & Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) funded research project titled "Collaborative Research for Equitable Public Participation in Watershed Governance: Canada, Brazil, Mozambique, South Africa, Kenya". In 2008, she was awarded the York University Knowledge Mobilization Course Release for Community Engagement Award. Currently, she is editing a book on feminist ecological economics.

Professor Stepan Wood (left) is director of Osgoode Hall Law School’s Mooting Program as well as its LLB/MES Program. He is actively involved in the work of the Standards Council of Canada and the International Organization for Standardization in the field of environmental management standards. He has published on numerous topics related to environmental and international affairs, including the ISO 14000 environmental management standards, global environmental governance, sustainability, regulatory reform, corporate social responsibility, Canadian forest law, international relations theory and international fisheries regulation. His current research focuses on the role of voluntary standards for environmental management and corporate social responsibility in the governance of corporate conduct.

In the afternoon, York film Professor Brenda Longfellow, award-winning filmmaker, writer and theorist, will screen her 2008 feature-length documentary Weather Report to symposium participants.

As the world reels from a series of unprecedented weather events, it is clear that climate change is forcing a fundamental re-evaluation of our most basic assumptions about energy, progress and values. Produced with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and the National Film Board of Canada, Weather Report looks at the dramatically evolving impacts and social implications of climate change. Travelling through North America, the Canadian Arctic, India and China, the film explores how the battle against climate change is implicated in the larger movement for sustainability and global justice.

Winner of the Sundance Channel's Green Award and the Bronze Remi Award at the 2008 WorldFest-Houston Independent International Film Festival, Longfellow's film has earned high praise from climatologists, educators and others in the field.

"Weather Report is a beautifully filmed documentary that travels the globe and is one of the first films to put a human face on the myriad impacts of climate change. Highly recommended," said Professor Anthony Leiserowitz, director of the Yale Project on Climate Change in the School of Forestry & Environmental Studies at Yale University.

Left: Brenda Longfellow

"Weather Report masterfully accomplishes something scientists have not been very good at – putting a real, human face on the consequences of global warming and the resulting climate change," said Cindy Parker, co-director of the Program on Global Sustainability & Health in the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Following the screening, there will be an informal round-table discussion on climate change and education with a focus on translating knowledge into action. The discussion will feature contributions from:

Professor Tony Shallcross is a visiting scholar from Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU). Shallcross is teaching ecology, ethics and education in the Graduate Program in Education Summer Institute at York University. He has more than 20 years of experience working in schools and is a former deputy head and head of department. Before taking up his post at MMU, he was a lecturer in environmental studies at the University of Edinburgh.

Steve Alsop is a professor in York's Faculty of Education where he coordinates the York/Seneca Institute for Mathematics, Science & Technology Education and the Graduate Diploma in Environmental/Sustainability Education. Alsop has taught in primary and secondary schools in inner-city London and coordinated the Centre for Learning & Research in Science Education at the Roehampton Institute at the University of Surrey. He has published widely in science and technology education and his recent books include Beyond Cartesian Dualism: Encountering Affect in Science Education and Analysing Exemplary Science Teaching: Theoretical Lenses and a Spectrum of Possibilities for Practice [co-edited with Larry Bencze and Erminia Pedretti]. He holds affiliated scholarly positions at the Universidad Autonoma de Baja California, Mexico; the Roehampton Institute; and the Centre for Science, Mathematics &Technology Education at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto. He is associated with a number of activist organizations including The Project for Altruistic Science and Technology Education.

Soni Craik is the acting executive director of EcoSource and has worked for the organization for over four years to extend its educational programming. Craik links her academic background with her interest in education for sustainability through child rights. She has worked for the International Institute for Child Rights & Development and the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade in South Africa as a facilitator of a participatory programs evaluation, specializing in working with elementary-aged children. Craik has also worked as an environmental education consultant for the Packard Foundation in Ethiopia and for the Child Welfare League of Canada in Cuba on a joint study of Havana’s social systems.

Rebecca Houwer is a doctoral candidate in the Faculty of Education at York University. Prior to returning to university, she worked for several years with community-based organizations committed to educating youth. Her academic interests include: ethics and critical place-based education in urban contexts; participatory action research as praxis; ethical community-university relations; ecology without nature; and, collaborative place-making and place-recovery with, and by, forced migrants. She is a research assistant for the $1-million Community-University Research Alliance (CURA) grant by SSHRC led by York social work Professor Uzo Anucha in the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies.

The symposium will conclude with a wrap-up and pledge that will be delivered by Hopkins.

For more information, visit the Sustainable Communities Symposium Web site.

Republished courtesy of YFile– York University’s daily e-bulletin.