Dr. Connie Russell: Faculty of Education, Lakehead University Research Chair in Environmental Education

 Start Date:  April 1, 2021 Website address of researcherhttps://www.lakeheadu.ca/users/R/crussell/node/ Key words associated with the Chair's Research
  • Environmental education
  • Climate change education
  • Social justice education
  • Humour

Head Shot of Dr. Connie Russell

 

Anticipated Research Impact (importance of the research and how it will benefit Canadians)

Many young people are anxious about the planet’s future. Finding ways to more effectively engage, communicate, and work with them on pressing environmental and social issues, within and beyond formal education systems, is vital. Strategic uses of humour in environmental education may have much to offer in helping learners grapple with complex issues in hopeful and productive ways.

 

Lakehead University Research Chair Project: Humour in Environmental Education

 
 

Most of us can come up with more than one example of a personally or environmentally problematic practice that we engage in despite “knowing better.” Yet we often are told that all that students, or the public, need is more information so that they can make rational decisions on behalf of the environment. Scholars of environmental learning and climate change communication have made abundantly clear that we humans are complicated beings and simply transmitting information is generally insufficient for helping people respond well to the sustainability challenges we are facing. Further, the doom-and-gloom discourse that is unfortunately quite common in environmental circles can leave people feeling overwhelmed, so it is no wonder some tune out or retreat in despair.

While there has been a surge of interest in the emotional dimensions of environmental education recently, humour has received little attention. There are many questions worth exploring. Why, when, where, and how do environmental educators use humour? What are the impacts of using humour on teaching and learning, mental health, or environmental engagement? How does humorous environmental education play in different cultural or multicultural contexts? What comedic forms (e.g., stand-up, film, visual and performance art, comics, cartoons) are particularly generative for environmental education? How could environmental educators collaborate with comedians, artists, and writers to create and facilitate humour-infused teaching, communication, or activist projects?