It’s not enough to just teach students the science behind climate change, it’s also important to teach them how to do something about it.
This is the premise of Katrina Moser’s teaching and learning innovations proposal that earned her one of three spots at this year’s teaching fellows program hosted by Western’s Centre for Teaching and Learning (CTL).
“The focus has always been on providing students with the scientific information that shows that climate change is occurring… and I started to realize in the last few years that I was leaving students in a dark place,” said Moser, professor in the department geography and environment at the Faculty of Social Science. “[Students] realize, ‘OK, you showed me a lot of data that is very convincing that climate change is occurring, but now what do I do?’ So I started to think about ways to shift the course to help engage students in taking action and making changes.”
Moser is developing the course, “Connecting for Climate Change Action,” in collaboration with Sara Mai Chitty, curriculum and pedagogy advisor, Office of Indigenous Initiatives, and Beth Hundey, e-learning and curriculum specialist at CTL and environmental change educator in the department of geography and environment. They have also hired a master’s student from the department of geography and environment, Serena Mendizabal, to collaborate on the course content.
Building relationships between Euro-Western and Indigenous scientific approaches and knowledges is at the core of the course. “What Sara Mai and Serena bring to the table is the Indigenous knowledge perspective, which… if we listen, pay attention and learn, will help us make the changes that we need to address climate change,” Moser said.
The course is designed in a series of eight online modules that “will require a shift in the traditional teaching approach,” using storytelling to braid Euro-Western and Indigenous scientific understanding to foster a deeper awareness, inspiring action rooted in Indigenous ways of engaging the mind, body, emotion and spirit, Moser said.
“Connecting for Climate Change Action” will form the basis for the Climate Change and Society major, a first of its kind in Canada, which launches in the department of geography and environment this fall. The course modules will not only be made available to other courses at Western but also to other post-secondary institutions and interested government organizations and community groups.
“It’s such an amazing example of taking interdisciplinary, collaborative, innovative approaches to problems that are very real in our society,” said Aisha Haque, director of CTL.
The teaching fellows program provides opportunities for Western’s educators to do research on ways to innovate teaching and learning.
The program builds capacity in three ways, according to Ken Meadows, educational researcher with CTL. “It’s building it with student learning, it’s building capacity in terms of excellence in teaching and learning within the larger community that they’re facilitating and supporting, and it’s building capacity within themselves as educational leaders.”
Haque highlighted CTL’s collaboration with the Office of Indigenous Initiatives in this year’s teaching fellows cohort. She added the projects also reflect Western’s commitments to Indigenization, sustainability, interdisciplinary and experiential learning in “deep and meaningful ways.”
“The projects recognize the complex challenges we face as a society today and they empower students to stage equitable, interdisciplinary and collaborative approaches to unpack these challenges,” Haque said.
The teaching fellows program, which began in 2014, involves a three-year secondment providing funding for the fellows to conduct their innovations and gain support from the CTL. In addition to Moser, the two other 2021 teaching fellows and their projects include:
Paul Mensink (Faculty of Science)
Engagement through Immersion: Immersive Education in Science
Mensink’s project will focus on the impact of immersive technologies (e.g., virtual reality, augmented reality, immersive video) on student motivation, engagement and scientific literacy in undergraduate and graduate courses. His work will have a particular focus on interdisciplinary environmental courses and engaging students with STEM subject matter related to sustainability and climate change education.
Kim Solga (Faculty of Arts and Humanities)
Innovations in Interdisciplinary Pedagogy, Within and Beyond Arts and Humanities
Solga’s project involves developing and evaluating two different models of collaborative interdisciplinary pedagogy. The first involves a collaboration between theatre studies and psychology, refining an existing community engaged learning partnership across two courses and including City Studio London. The second involves a partnership between colleagues in theatre studies and philosophy who will create a course on the work of 17th century philosopher and playwright Margaret Cavendish. Solga will also engage in a mixed research program with her partners on the course projects, exploring instructor experiences of designing and implementing the two models of collaborative interdisciplinary pedagogy through an auto-ethnographical methodology, as well as determining the impact of those courses on students using survey and interviews.