Chapter. Environmental Responsibility through Ethnoecology Education
Tannys Moffatt¹, Christine Penner², John Taylor³ and Paul Watts
¹Winnipeg School Division, Manitoba, Canada
²Interlake School Division, Manitoba, Canada
³Taylor Education Consulting, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
⁴Daluhay International, Canada
The authors suggest that environmental education in Canada’s high schools can best be considered at the provincial level with a dual focus on preparation for global citizenry and development of professional expertise. University level training may need to be developed to meet the challenges and opportunities of Canadian pluralism. Thus, in the current work we outline both high school and sequential approaches to what is broadly considered environmental education at the university level. Enhanced student responsibility within the classroom has been linked to the creation of a learning environment where the student is not a victim, but is instead, empowered. The application of related principles to environmental education has the potential to assist teachers in developing responsible, aware and proactive adults to mitigate local and global climate change, greenhouse gas emissions and other environmental challenges. The authors suggest this can best be accomplished by utilizing the concept of Ethnoecology, which can be both an academic and practical approach that considers people as part of the ecosystems, in the classroom and in resource management. Ethnoecology considers the perceptions and activities of people within the environment and not just as something occurring outside ecological process. Recognizing personal differences associated with heritage, occupations, and life experience is one way of defining or approximating a culturally inclusive approach to the environment or Ethnoecology. The development of these approaches to encompass secondary environmental education is primarily determined at the administrative and local level of school districts within the Province of Manitoba. One goal for this province could be the transfer of best practice to establish a Manitoba standard. Ethnoecology can perhaps best be integrated with existing curriculum guidelines in a way that enhances the relationship between the sciences, humanities and technology. A goal-directed approach within Ethnoecology could also help identify opportunities to develop extra-curricular activities for individual students and classes. Specific environmental goals can be considered as cross-cultural opportunities and strategies developed to help reduce the student’s sense of being a victim within an environment that is beyond their control. Establishing a concept of student empowerment associated with environmental challenges can be an effective way of linking youth and future adults with positive feedback loops. The current work considers this process as one example of what has been defined elsewhere as ecosystemics, where the primary goal is to empower people to be part of positive change toward local and global sustainability. Canada is one of the richest countries in the world and it is reasonable to expect that this nation take a leadership role in the development of education and communication approaches that are linked to global issues. Further, the current work details the use of responsibility-based approaches, the development of critical thinking and the stimulation of student imagination within the Canadian classroom. High school science, world issues and Ethnoecology applications are considered both in terms of Canadian curriculum and as an application to development in the less affluent country of the Philippines.
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