CFP for EER SI: Humour & Environmental Education

Environmental Education Research

Special Issue Call for Papers

Humour and Environmental Education

Special Issue Editors:

Patrick Chandler, University of Colorado Boulder,  

Justin Dillon, University of Exeter,

Constance Russell, Lakehead University,

Environmental educators may have a reputation for engaging in doom-and-gloom discourse (Kelsey & Armstrong, 2012) and being “killjoys” who challenge the status quo (Verlie & CCR 15, 2018), yet from our personal experience, we know many also value humour and some use it in their teaching. While environmental education scholars are increasingly attending to the emotional and affective dimensions of our work, including discussing grief, loss, solastalgia, anxiety, despair, hope, love, care, and empathy (see Russell & Oakley, 2016), humour has received minimal attention in the field. We found one paper discussing humour as a trigger for emotional engagement in outdoor education (Hoad et al., 2018) as well as brief mentions of humour in descriptions of pedagogical practices (Chandler et al., 2020; McKenzie et al., 2010; Publicover et al., 2018; Russell, 2019) and in discussions of Indigenous approaches to environmental education (Cole, 2012; Korteweg et al., 2010; Lowan-Trudeau, 2019).

Just beyond our borders, however, there has been growing attention to humour. There has been a recent flurry of scholarly writing on the uses of humour in climate change communication (e.g., Anderson & Becker, 2018; Boykoff & Osnes, 2019; Chandler et al., 2020; Kaltenbacher & Drews, 2020; Osnes et al., 2019; Skurka et al., 2019), some of which has been translated into practical ideas for educators or pitched to public audiences (e.g., Boykoff, 2019; Inside the Greenhouse, 2020). There also has been work on humour in other educational fields that grapple with thorny issues, such as social justice education, Indigenous education, Holocaust education, and activist education (e.g., Chattoo & Feldman, 2020; Hinzo & Clark, 2019; Leddy, 2018; Mayo, 2008; Mora et al., 2015; Rossing, 2016; Roy, 2007; Sørensen, 2016; Zemblyas, 2018). Other educational scholars have explored humour through philosophical inquiries or investigations of the pedagogical potential and pitfalls of using humour (e.g., Banas et al., 2011; Garner, 2006; Gordon & Mayo, 2014; Jones & McGloin, 2016; Morreall, 2014; Sambrani et al., 2014).

We want to encourage research and scholarly conversations about the role of humour in environmental education, grounded in diverse learning environments, which is especially important given what is found funny is historically, culturally, and contextually specific. A number of questions come to mind that we think would be worth investigating. For example, why, when, and how do environmental educators choose to use humour pedagogically? How might humourous environmental education play in different cultural or multicultural contexts? What sorts of lessons might be learned from comedians whose work explicitly tackles difficult topics such as racism, sexism, colonialism, and genocide? What comedic forms (e.g., stand-up, film, visual and performance art, comics, cartoons, advertising) might be particularly generative for environmental education research, theorizing and practice, and why? Are there ways that humour helps environmental educators deflect their difficult knowledge or the pressures resulting from the emotionally fraught labour in which they and their students engage? Although far from an exclusive list, these questions point to some of the possible directions this special issue could go.

Submission Process

We seek proposals of up to 1,000 words (plus references) by March 15, 2021. Please email these directly to the guest editors (email addresses above). Proposals should crystallise the key arguments of the proposed paper, map out how the aims of the paper will be achieved, and indicate theoretical frame and sources of ideas/evidence. It is recommended that authors familiarize themselves with some of the scholarship cited in this CFP. Practitioners with less experience of academic writing are encouraged to contact the guest editors to discuss possibilities. Accepted proposals will be those deemed most likely to: make a significant addition to the literature; have a focus and content in line with the CFP; have a coherent research method/scholarly approach, arguments, and conclusions; and be understood by an international audience. Invitations to submit a full paper will be sent to selected authors by March 30, 2021.

Full manuscripts should be a maximum of 6,000 words excluding references and will be due on August 30, 2021. (Earlier submissions welcome!) Where pertinent to the content of their paper, authors are welcome to include visual representations suitable for print or provide supplemental online material (e.g., video, sound file) that EER publishes online via Figshare (see supplemental material and how to submit it with your article). Consult the journal's website for the aims and scope of the journal, guidelines for preparation of manuscripts, and submission instructions.

Final acceptance of an article is conditional upon peer review and the decision of the Guest Editors and Editor. We anticipate publishing the special issue in Summer 2022, with accepted articles published online in advance as ready.


Anderson, A. A., & Becker, A. B. (2018). Not just funny after all: Sarcasm as a catalyst for public engagement with climate change. Science Communication, 40(4), 524-540.

Banas, J. A., Dunbar, N., Rodriguez, D., & Liu, S. (2011). A review of humour in educational settings: Four decades of research. Communication Education, 60 (1), 115-144.

Boykoff, M. (2019, September 30). Leave ‘em laughing instead of crying: Climate humor can break down barriers and find common ground. The Conversation.

Boykoff, M., & Osnes, B. (2019). A laughing matter? Confronting climate change through humor. Political Geography, 68, 154-163.

Chattoo, C. B., & Feldman, L. (2020). A comedian and an activist walk Into a bar: The serious role of comedy in social justice. University of California Press.

Chandler, P., Osnes, B., & Boykoff, M. (2020). Creative climate communications: Teaching from the heart through the arts. In J. Henderson & A. Drewes (Eds.), Teaching climate change in the United States (pp. 172-185). Routledge.

Cole, P. (2012). Coyote and Raven talk about Indigenizing environmental education: Or reconfiguring the shenanigans of Otis O’Dewey Esquire. Canadian Journal of Environmental Education, 17, 15-29.

Garner, R. L. (2006). Humor in pedagogy: How ha-ha can lead to aha! College Teaching, 54(1), 177–180.

Gordon, M., & Mayo, C. (2014). Special issue on humor, laughter and philosophy of education: Introduction. Educational Philosophy and Theory, 46(2), 115-119.

Hinzo, A. M., & Clark, L. S. (2019). Digital survivance and Trickster humor: Exploring visual and digital Indigenous epistemologies in the #NoDAPL movement. Information, Communication & Society, 22(6), 791-807.

Hoad, C., Deed, C., & Lugg, A. (2018). The potential of humor as a trigger for emotional engagement in outdoor education. Journal of Experiential Education, 36(1), 37-50.

Inside the Greenhouse. (2020, April 17). Comedy and climate change video competition: Announcing the 2020 winners. Inside the Greenhouse: Re-telling Climate Change Stories.

Jones, G., & McGloin, C. (2016). Pedagogy, pleasure and the art of poking fun: Anti-colonial humour in Australian Indigenous studies. AlterNative: An International Journal of Indigenous Peoples, 12(5), 527-540.

Kaltenbacher, M., & Drews, S. (2020). An inconvenient joke? A review of humor in climate change communication. Environmental Communication, 14(6), 717-729.

Kelsey, E., & Armstrong, C. (2012). Finding hope in a world of environmental catastrophe. In A. Wals & P. Corcoran (Eds.), Learning for sustainability in times of accelerating change (pp. 187-200). Wageningen Academic Publishing.

Korteweg, L., Gonzalez, I., & Guillet, J. (2010). The stories are the people and the land: Three educators respond to environmental teachings in Indigenous children’s literature. Environmental Education Research, 16(3/4), 331-350.

Leddy, S. (2018). In a good way: Reflecting on humour in Indigenous education. Journal of the Canadian Association for Curriculum Studies, 16(2), 10-20.

Lowan-Trudeau, G. (2019). Gatekeeper or gardener? Exploring positioning, paradigms, and metaphors in Indigenous environmental education research. Journal of Environmental Education, 50(4-6), 348-357.

Mayo, C. (2008). Being in on the joke: Pedagogy, race, humor. Philosophy of Education 2008, 244-252.

McKenzie, M., Russell, C., Fawcett, L., & Timmerman, N. (2010). Popular media, intersubjective learning, and cultural production. In R. Stevenson & J. Dillon (Eds.), Environmental education: Learning, culture and agency (pp. 147-164). Sense.

Mora, R. A., Weaver, S., & Lindo, L. M. (2015). Editorial for special issue on education and humour: Education and humour as tools for social awareness and critical consciousness in contemporary classrooms. The European Journal of Humour Research, 3(4), 1-8.

Morreall, J. (2014). Humor, philosophy and education. Educational Philosophy and Theory, 46(2), 120-131.

Osnes, B., Boykoff, M., & Chandler, P. (2019). Good-natured comedy to enrich climate communication. Comedy Studies, 10(2), 224-236.

Publicover, J. L., Wright, T. S., Baur, S., & Duinker, P. N. (2018). Music as a tool for environmental education and advocacy: Artistic perspectives from musicians of the Playlist for the Planet. Environmental Education Research, 24(7), 925-936.

Rossing, J. (2016). Emancipatory racial humor as critical public pedagogy: Subverting hegemonic racism. Communication, Culture & Critique, 9, 614-632.

Roy, C. (2007). When wisdom speaks sparks fly: Raging Grannies perform humor as protest. Women's Studies Quarterly, 35(3/4), 150-164.

Russell, C. (2019). An intersectional approach to teaching and learning about humans and other animals in educational contexts. In T. Lloro-Bidart & V. Banschbach (Eds.), Animals in environmental education: Interdisciplinary approaches to curriculum and pedagogy (pp. 35-52).Palgrave Macmillan.

Russell, C., & Oakley, J. (2016). Editorial: Engaging the emotional dimensions of environmental education. Canadian Journal of Environmental Education, 21, 13-22.

Sambrani, T., Mani, S., Almeida, M., & Jakubovski, E. (2014). The effect of humour on learning in an educational setting. International Journal of Education and Psychological Research, 3(3), 52-55.

Skurka, C., Niederdeppe, J., & Nabi, R. (2019). Kimmel on climate: Disentangling the emotional ingredients of a satirical monologue. Science Communication, 41(4), 394-421.

Sørensen, M. J. (2016). Humour in political activism: Creative nonviolent resistance. Palgrave Macmillan.

Verlie, B., & CCR 15. (2018). From action to intra-action? Agency, identity and “goals” in a relational approach to climate change education. Environmental Education Research. Advance online publication.

Zembylas, M. (2018). Holocaust laughter and Edgar Hilsenrath’s The Nazi and the Barber: Towards a critical pedagogy of laughter and humor in Holocaust Education. Studies in Philosophy and Education, 37(3), 301-313.