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Environmental and Sustainability Education

OISE Projects


DEEPER - Deepening Environmental Education in Preservice Education Roundtable

This roundtable event is the first of its kind in Ontario to focus on EE in pre-service education. It aims to bring together educators experienced in preservice EE from a variety of educational organizations to collaboratively identify a framework for and the components of EE for pre-service education in Ontario. Stakeholder groups involved will include pre-service faculty already engaged in EE; pre-service students; curriculum leaders from school boards with active Ecoschool programs; practicing elementary and secondary teachers involved in EE; and representatives from NGOs doing EE-related work in Ontario.  This roundtable event will result in a collaboratively-developed guide to help support and deepen this type of critical learning in Faculties of Education across Ontario.  For more info, contact Andrea Cousineau [andrea.cousineau@utoronto.causineau]

OISE Community Learning Garden

A group of students and faculty are planning the creation of a Community Learning Garden in front of OISE’s main building to support integrated learning about ESE, aboriginal education and equity education in our graduate and teacher education programs. These plantgardens can become symbolic and physical manifestations for collaborative learning around social and ecological learning across all of OISE’s programs, and act as demonstration sites to inspire our students to integrate nature-based learning into their own personal and professional lives in future.  The group is looking for new members  - please contact Erin Sperling [erin.sperling@utoronto.ca] or Susan Jagger [s.jagger@mail.utoronto.ca] for more info.

Environmental Art Projects for Energy Conservation

Members of the OISE community have been at work this winter on environmentally-themed artworks for the stairwells of our main building, creating a unique art gallery.  The aim is to encourage OISE members and visitors to 'take the stairs' more often, reducing the amount of energy it takes run our lage bank of elevators (the single largest use of electrivity in the building.)  More details will follow when the project is launched in the spring of 2013.

FLAP - Fatal Light Awareness Program

A team of OISE students and faculty partnered to help raise awareness of FLAP with an eco-art project in the spring 2012. Over 300 handmade prints of birds were created and distributed to all of the exterior offices in the OISE building, reminding faculty and staff to do their part to reduce the number of bird deaths around the building in the spring and fall migration seasons.  The prints act as artistic reminders for people to close their office blinds each night, turn off their overhead office lights, and use task-focused lighting. 


For more information on this project, visit: http://oiseflap.weebly.com/index.html

Environment Education Conference for MT and MA/Child Study Students

The MT program host an annual one-day conference to introduce and deepen graduate students’ learning in ESE at OISE; first year students in these programs will be in attendance. This conference feature two keynote speakers, a host of workshops, and a field trip to experience outdoor education in High Park. For more information, contact Hilary Inwood at [hilary.inwood@utoronto.ca]. 

Natural Curiosity at ICS

Established in 1925, The Laboratory School at the Dr. Eric Jackman Institute of Child Study (OISE) is an elementary school for children in Nursery to Grade 6 that is based on an Inquiry-based philosophy of education.  Teachers at The Lab School build children’s understanding of the world through Environmental Inquiry, an overarching approach to environmental and sustainability education that brings the following four branches together in a dynamic and cohesive relationship: Inquiry-based Learning, Experiential Learning, Integrated Learning, and Stewardship. Through Environmental Inquiry, students become personally invested in a process that is shaped by their very own questions and ideas about the world – their natural curiosity – and a process that places them in direct interactions with the local natural environment. Students deepen their understanding of the earth’s interconnected systems through ongoing discourse and reflection in pursuit of idea improvement. They feel secure in their ability to take intellectual risks, to contribute to community knowledge, to think out loud. A learning process that places this much value on students’ ideas is transformative, empowering students to translate their knowledge, sense of agency and appreciation for the natural world into stewardship behaviour. One of the distinct purposes of a laboratory school is explore what is possible in education through research and practice, and to share those possibilities with the broader educational community. In 2009, The Laboratory School at the Dr. Eric Jackman Institute of Child Study embarked on an Environmental Education Initiative to share the Environmental Inquiry approach with Ontario elementary school teachers. The Lab School forged links with seven teachers in GTA public schools to discover together how Environmental Inquiry fits into different public education settings. A main objective of this Initiative was to develop a comprehensive resource document aimed at providing Ontario elementary school teachers with reassurance, clarity, and options for putting Environmental Inquiry into practice. This resource, Natural Curiosity: Building Children’s Understanding of the World through Environmental Inquiry, will be available in print and web-based format at http://www.naturalcuriosity.ca in May 2011.  For more information about the Lab School’s entire Environmental Education Initiative, please visit: http://bit.ly/et7oy0

OISE’s Eco-Fair

This annual event is held at OISE each winter to help to share educational initiatives in ESE by local community organizations and NGOs, including Ontario Ecoschools, Live Green, Evergreen, Learning for a Sustainable Future, and Foodshare, to name only a few. OISE students and faculty are able to talk with each NGO’s representatives and gain an awareness of the valuable work that they do. The Eco-Fair has also been a terrific opportunity for students to network for internships positions and future professional opportunities in ESE.  This year the Eco-Fair is being held on January 21, 2014 from 11am-2pm in the OISE library.  For more information, contact Jane Forbes at [jane.forbes@utoronto.ca]

IALEI Research Project

In May 2009, Erminia Pedretti led a team consisting of Joanne Nazir, Professors John Wallace, Hilary Inwood and David Montemurro. They published a national research report on climate change and sustainability education in Canada, in response to an invitation by the International Alliance of Leading Educational Institutions (IALEI) network. The report is entitled: Climate Change and Sustainable Development: The Response from Education, The Canadian Perspective. The national report was presented at conferences in Korea (by Kathy Broad) and at WEEC in Montreal (by Hilary Inwood) on our behalf. In December 2009, our work was incorporated into a cross-national publication entitled: Climate Change and Sustainable Development: The Response from Education, published by the IALEI. Click here for a copy of this report.

ITE Walk-in Closet

This bi-annual event has been organized by the Greening OISE group in the past to help promote the concept of re-using, one of the 4Rs (recycling, reducing and rethinking are the others.) OISE faculty, staff and students are encouraged to donate gently used clothing to the Walk-in Closet, which is offered to OISE students free of charge as a way to refresh their closets before heading out on their teaching practica. 

OISE Building Upgrades

OISE has been working towards a greater level of sustainability in its physical plant over the last few years. While challenging to do in a building first opened in the 1960s, OISE has managed in recent years to improve its energy conservation measures. New light fixtures, bulbs and motion sensitive timers have reduced the amount of electricity used, as have a new fleet of elevators (which are the greatest draw on power in the building.) Upgrades to the HVAC systems and the addition of solar films on two sides of the building have also reduced energy consumption. Automatic flush toilets are helping to reduce the amount of water used, as are controlled water flow systems in the washroom sinks. Recycling has been in effect for a number of years already, and green bins for organic waste were added this year. Plans to decrease the building’s ecological footprint in the new year include adding a water bottle filling station in the student lounge on the 5th floor, creating an educational garden in the adjoining parkette, and mounting a campaign to encourage greater stair use. 

Environmental and Sustainability Education Infusion Initiative 

The Environmental and Sustainability Education (ESE) Infusion Initiative has developed out the work of the ESE Working Group, a group of faculty working to advocate for and create a culture of sustainability and positive environmental change at OISE. The ESE Infusion Initiative aims to broaden and deepen this work to support one of the tenets, Social and Ecological Responsibility, of OISE’s new institutional vision. It provides a nexus for ESE-related groups at OISE, such as the Sustainability Action Committee, the ESE Working Group, the Greening OISE B.Ed Student Group, and the ESE Grad Student Group, to share information, co-develop events and programs, and work towards a greater level of sustainability in all that OISE does. The ESE Infusion Initiative provides leadership and support in three key ways: Programs provide a variety of opportunities for teaching and learning in ESE at OISE, supporting formal programs such as ITE and grad courses, as well as informal programming such as workshops, lectures, and special events.  Advocacy promotes a more comprehensive integration of ESE into all aspects of OISE’s planning and delivery processes.  Facilities encourages and supports the development of changes to make OISE’s building more sustainable in terms of energy conservation and waste reduction  If you’d like to get more information on the Infusion Initiative, please contact Hilary Inwood [hilary.inwood@utoronto.ca]

OISE Worms

Worms are the latest addition to the OISE ESE Team!  This active group of Red Wrigglers munch, chomp and chew their way through donations of food scraps from OISE students, turning green waste into green gold, which is used to nourish the Community Learning Garden.  The worms' experiential approach to teaching and learning models the power of vermi-composting quickly and quietly, appealing to a variety of learning styles and multiple intelligences.   Available to educate and entertain during classes, workshops, parties, or any OISE gathering; contact Hilary Inwood for more information [hilary.inwood@utoronto.ca]

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