Dr. Connie Russell (Professor, Faculty of Education, Thunder Bay campus) has been named the Lakehead University Research Chair in Environmental Education. The adjudication committee noted that Dr. Russell is “an established scholar who has made major impacts in the field” and lauded her national and international reputation, publication record, editing work, and outstanding record of graduate student supervision. They also appreciated “the social importance and timeliness” of the research project she proposed on humour and environmental education.
As Dr. Russell notes: “Doom-and-gloom discourse is unfortunately quite common in environmental circles. That can leave learners feeling overwhelmed, so it is no wonder that some tune out or retreat in despair. There has been a surge of interest in the emotional dimensions of environmental education recently, but thus far the possibilities and pitfalls of using humour have received little attention in the field. There are many questions worth exploring, including why, when, where, and how environmental educators choose to use humour and what impacts it may have on teaching and learning, mental health, and environmental engagement.” She is currently collaborating with colleagues on a special issue of the journal, Environmental Education Research, that is focusing on humour. It has garnered interest from scholars, cartoonists, and comedians from around the world, and she hopes it will feed a number of research and teaching partnerships.
Dr. Russell says, “I am grateful to have been awarded a LU Research Chair since it gives me more time to focus on research as well as some funding that can be used to employ graduate students as research assistants.”