Environment & Urban Planning

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Learning Programs

Parents and teachers: Did you know that there are some fabulous experiential learning programs available that focus on environment and community? This list compiled by SaskOutdoors provides helpful starting point for bringing under-utilized education alternatives into our schools. If you see something you like, contact SaskOutdoors for guidance on bringing the program to your school or school division.

Grade 7

Wild Outdoor Research Team (Regina) http://outdoored.rbe.sk.ca/?q=node/173

WORT is a unique program for Regina Public Schools Grade 7 students run by the Outdoor Environmental Education Staff. Students who have an interest in outdoor experiences, environmental issues and developing an understanding of the natural world comprise the team. Students apply at the end of their grade 6 year by writing a letter of application indicating why they want to be in the program, what environmental issues concern them and what they would like to do and learn in the outdoors.

Prairie Sky School Taproots (Regina) http://www.prairieskyschool.net/grade-seven-and-eight.html

In grade 7 and 8 at Prairie Sky School, we offer an integrated program taught using place-based learning. As David Sobel writes, “Place-based education is the process of using the local community and environment as a starting point to teach concepts…Emphasizing hands-on, real-world learning experiences, this approach to education increases academic achievement, helps students develop stronger ties to their community, enhances students’ appreciation for the natural world, and creates a heightened commitment to serving as active, contributing citizens” (2006). Our place-based grade 7 and 8 class will be offered with ⅓ of our time in the classroom, ⅓ of our time in the community, and ⅓ of our time on nature immersion trips. (new 2015-16)

Grade 8

Ecoquest (Saskatoon) http://www.ecoquest.ca/

Ecoquest is a unique ecological, outdoor adventure program for grade eight students in the Saskatoon Public School Division that provides active and challenging learning experiences. With Saskatchewan’s diverse landscape as the classroom, Ecoquest students participate in field studies that bring the curriculum to life through exciting experiences and first hand exploration. The students, who come from a variety of public schools, work cooperatively and form a close community as they share exciting experiences and develop a deeper understanding and appreciation of environmental and social issues.

EcoJustice (Saskatoon) http://www.scs.sk.ca/ecojustice/

EcoJustice is a grade 8 environmental, adventure program housed out of Saint Edward School in Saskatoon Public Schools. The term EcoJustice is an approach that analyzes the increasing destruction of the world’s diverse ecosystems, languages and cultures by the globalizing and ethnocentric forces of Western consumer culture. EcoJustice scholars and educators also study, support and teach about the ways that various cultures around the world actively resist these colonizing forces by protecting and revitalizing their commons that is the social practices and traditions, languages, and relationships with the land necessary to the sustainability of their communities. EcoJustice is based on St. Francis of Assisi’s system of beliefs. He believed in simplicity, poverty and relied on God’s providence rather than worldly goods. It is our hope that through the many experiences within the program, true disciples emerge.

Grade 9

Collective Voice (Saskatoon) http://www.spsd.sk.ca/school/adenbowman/ProgramsServices/collectivevoice/Pages/default.aspx

Collective Voice is an integrated Grade 9 program in Saskatoon Public Schools combining the subjects of Social Studies, English Language Arts, and Arts Education. The focus of the program is learning in community, investigating the roots of inequality and injustice, and empowering students to find their voice and share it!

Grade 10

SEED (Saskatoon) http://www.spsd.sk.ca/school/adenbowman/ProgramsServices/SEED/Pages/default.aspx

Seed is a fresh new half-day program for grade 10 students that integrates Wellness 10 with PAA 10. This program will provide students with opportunities to improve their own health by engaging in a wide variety of physical activities, growing and preparing good food, and critically thinking about lifestyle choices. Students will have the chance to connect with individuals and organizations that are making positive change in Saskatoon, and will use this inspiration to start purposeful projects of their own that impact the school and greater community. The Seed program uses the city as a classroom. Therefore, students will often be expected to meet in a wide variety of locations using active or public transport. (new 2014-15)

Grade 11

Greenall Outdoor School (Balgonie) http://www.pvsd.ca/school/greenall/ProgramsServices/GHSODS/default.aspx

The Outdoor School provides Greenall students with a unique opportunity to obtain five academic classes in an outdoor setting. The academic classes are combined into a package that integrates curriculum and learning with a focus on environmental studies, leadership skills and personal physical fitness. Students experience education in a natural setting as they integrate the academic rigors of their classes with challenging and exciting outdoor experiences. Students travel throughout the province and learn about Saskatchewan from naturalists, scientists, conservationists and ecologists. In addition, the volunteer component allows students to contribute to the community.

Saskatoon Outdoor School http://www.spsd.sk.ca/school/marionmgraham/ProgramsServices/ods/Pages/default.aspx

Join the Outdoor School program for the opportunity of a lifetime. Travel throughout the province and embark on a semester-long outdoor adventure with 23 new friends as you earn five regular academic credits. You won’t find bells or desks in our classroom(s), but you will find backcountry camping, white-water canoeing, backpacking, cycling, wall climbing, skiing, snowboarding and more! We play hard and we work hard.

Study boreal forest ecology as you paddle through some of the world’s most beautiful northern lakes. Immerse yourself in the natural history of the plains bison as you hike along side them in their historic grasslands. Experience ecological sustainability as you work along side some of our province’s most innovative thinkers and discover the secrets of Saskatoon’s past, present, and future through our study of urban geography. You will discover a new level of confidence as you are engaged in a number of integrated research projects that lead to five regular grade eleven credits in Earth Science, English Language Arts, Environmental Science, Geography, and Physical Education 20.

Outdoor Pursuits (Regina)

Sheldon Williams Collegiate and Winston Knoll Collegiate offer outdoor pursuits. The Outdoor Pursuit course is a Credited Physical Education Program at the 20 and 30 level for students looking for an alternative to traditional Phys. Ed. classes. The activities include Cross Country Skiing, Hiking, Mountain Biking, Canoeing, Kayaking, Snow Shoeing, Dog Sledding and many more. Trips are taken to Waskesiu, Banff, Waterton and the Churchill River System in Northern Saskatchewan.

Canadian Research about Sustainability and Environmental Education

Lakehead University: Centre or Place and Sustainability Studies

The purpose of the Centre for Place and Sustainability Studies is to contribute to the wellbeing of people and places. The Centre incubates and supports diverse place and sustainability related research, education, and action initiatives within the Lakehead University community, in the region, and internationally in order to create more socially and ecologically just environments. The Centre for Place and Sustainability Studies will:

Convene 
a meeting ground for reflection and action around key social and ecological sustainability issues impacting diverse communities places in the local region
Support
relationship and capacity-building around shared interests across university departments and communities in Thunder Bay and Northwestern
Ontario
Develop
collaborative partnerships through place and sustainability related research, education, and outreach initiatives
Experiment
with and model ways of being and working together that help foster wellbeing, compassion, courage, and care

University of Saskatchewan: SERI http://seri.usask.ca/

The Sustainability Education Research Institute (SERI) is a Centre within the College of Education. Established in 2012, SERI is a collaborative, innovative, and internationally-linked institute that houses faculty, postdoctoral fellows, graduate students, staff, and other partners conducting research on environment and sustainability in relation to education.

The Institute’s goals are:

To further research and action on land, place, environment, and sustainability in relation to educational research, policy, and practice

To further environmental and sustainability education via regional, national, and international partnerships and innovative and collaborative research

To attract strong collaborators and provide a collaborative and leadership hub for organizational partners, graduate students, and faculty with shared research interests

To develop the Institute and sustainability education research as a core component of research activities in the College of Education and contribute to building its developing research culture

To contribute to the University of Saskatchewan’s Signature Areas, including “Energy and Mineral Resources: Technology and Public Policy for a Sustainable Environment” and “Aboriginal Peoples: Engagement and Scholarship,” as well as the University’s Commitment to sustainability through innovations in governance, research, education, operations, and community engagement

Other Sources

Sustainability in Canadian K-12 Education.

There has been a steady increase in uptake of sustainability in K-12 education over the past decade. However these research results suggest that more can be done both at the ministry of education and school division levels to further mobilize knowledge and solutions that enable change for a more sustainable future.

Education on Wheels: Seizing Cost and Energy Efficiency Opportunities in Student Transportation.

P.W. Bennett and D.M. Gillis, Halifax: Atlantic Institute for Market Studies, 2015.

The yellow school bus is driving a growing share of provincial education budgets, yet transportation policies and costs remain “shrouded in mystery and largely hidden from the public.” Full cost accounting could open the door to policies that promote walkable schools and healthier local communities, the authors argue.

Critical Issues: Schools Cycle Back Into the Heart of Neighbourhoods

The Oregon transportation board and school boards are working together to bring schools back to neighbourhoods. Smaller parking lots, bigger green spaces and close neighbours and parents are the new goal.

International Walk to School

International Walk to School events encourage a more walkable world — one community at a time.

Helping Johnny Walk to School: Policy Recommendations

A follow-up to Why Johnny Can’t Walk to School, published in 2002, this report looks at steps to alleviate the environmental, social and health impacts of school sprawl.

Smart Growth Principles and Community-Centred Schools

An excerpt from ‘Schools for Successful Communities: An Element of Smart Growth,’ outlining the educational benefits of neighbourhood schools. Published by the Council of Educational Facilities Planners International.

Children and Cities: Planning to Grow Together

by Juan Torres Institut d’urbanisme, Université de Montréal, 2009

This 2009 study on children and urban sprawl released by the Vanier Institute on the Family is critical of school planning decisions that increase the distance between students and schools. “Neighbourhood schools where children can walk or bike independently offer many of the features children want in a high quality living environment,” writes author Juan Torrez of the University of Montreal’s Institute of Urbanism.

Local Governments and Schools: A Community-Oriented Approach

(International City/County Management Association, Washington, DC , 2008)
Provides local government managers with an understanding of the connections between school facility planning and local government management issues, with particular attention to avoiding the creation of large schools remotely sited from the community they serve. It offers multiple strategies for local governments and schools to bring their respective planning efforts together to take a more community-oriented approach to schools and reach multiple community goals–educational, environmental, economic, social, and fiscal. Eight case studies illustrate how communities across the U.S. have already succeeded in collaborating to create more community-oriented schools. Includes 95 references and an extensive list of additional online resources. 40p.

Smart Growth Schools Clearing House

A comprehensive collection of research reports related to schools and their role in walkable communities, urban planning and neighbourhood development.

School retrofitting

Rethinking Schools Capital Investment: The New 3Rs? Refresh, Refurbish, Reuse British Council for School Environments.

Renovating Schools: Good for the Pocketbook and Good for the Soul

The Greenest Building: Quantifying the Costs of Renovation versus New Construction.

Renovate, Reuse, Restore – Gisolfi, et. al.

Lasting Value: Retrofitting Historic Schools

Build or Renovate School Facilities? – National Clearing House for Educational Facilities resource list

Preserving Historic Neighbourhood Schools – NCEF resource list

Renovating Schools: Good for the Pocketbook and Good for the Soul

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