by Codrina Ibanescu
What does our collective future look like, with the current climate crisis on the horizon? Moreover, what role does education play in advancing climate solutions to ensure a prosperous and sustainable future for tomorrow? We simply cannot solve today’s problems using yesterday’s thinking – the future of our youth and our planet requires intergenerational, inspirational and innovational thinking.
The climate emergency is rapidly intensifying, and if informed action is not taken now, it will result in an increase in global temperatures. According to the latest IPCC report, 234 scientists from 66 countries highlight that the Earth and climate has warmed at an unprecedented rate, and furthermore, in 2019 atmospheric CO2 concentrations were at a higher point than they have been in the last 2 million years (UN News, 2021). The United Nations chief has responded by stating “Inclusive and green economies, prosperity, cleaner air and better health are possible for all, if we respond to this crisis with solidarity and courage” (UN News, 2021). I believe that this is an especially important topic right now, as the climate emergency is ongoing and furthermore, youth will be the leaders of tomorrow who will be responsible for the sustainability of our planet.
Given the highly complex nature of the climate crisis and its repercussions, it is necessary that we reconsider education, the dissemination and decentralization of knowledge/wisdom, and moreover, that we harness inspirational and innovative approaches that can assist in shifting the human mind and heart towards empathy, compassion and reciprocity rooted in biocentrism. The Climate Solutions Park is an inspirational showcase which will empower the youth of today to fight for their future, and importantly, to feel that their sense of meaning, purpose and professional development are tied directly to greater climate solutions impact that this purpose-driven project aims to pursue.
Can the curation of experiential environmental pedagogy, praxis, regenerative art/design and biosolutions support the development of climate crisis solutions? The focused research topic which I wish to examine and explore is how the curation and praxis of experiential environmental pedagogy, regenerative art/design and biosolutions can support the development of practical solutions to the climate emergency, while concurrently enhancing student engagement that aligns with purpose and community engagement. I aim to explore various approaches to education which have been used to encourage and foster what Robin Wall Kimmerer refers to as a “gift economy” and “reciprocity/gratitude” within the academic community, and moreover, within communities, society and the globe. Kimmerer suggests that “gratitude and reciprocity are the currency of a gift economy, and they have the remarkable property of multiplying with every exchange, their energy concentrating as they pass from hand to hand, a truly renewable resource…to name the world as gift is to feel one’s membership in the web of reciprocity. It makes you happy—and it makes you accountable. Conceiving of something as a gift changes your relationship to it in a profound way, even though the physical makeup of the “thing” has not changed (Kimmerer, 2022). The gift economy is a manifestation and integration of the ways in which Indigenous wisdom and ecological systems can be reimagined as currencies of exchange. As a part of my master’s project, I would like to further the vision of the Climate Solutions Park (CSP) through researching, creating and designing an interactive experiential and inspirational ecological native plant living lab in Penetanguishene, ON, at one of our Climate Solutions Parks locations. It will include native plant gardens and permaculture, an interactive native plant walk, Indigenous medicine gardens, a community hub, geodesic dome technology, renewable energy, and composting.
I will be researching various pedagogical approaches to education such as popular education, the Danish tradition of “folkeschools”, embodied knowledge and traditional ecological knowledge. Moreover, I will explore how together, all these pedagogical approaches can be situated within natural, land-based settings and communities to support regenerative biosolutions and community engagement. When coupled with experiential learning and regenerative art/design, these pedagogical approaches can be harnessed to increase receptivity amongst the student population and can create inspired action focused on climate solutions. I will also touch upon how environmental pedagogy and praxis can be actualized through participatory art, practical biosolutions and experiential learning opportunities. Furthermore, I would like to explore and understand the ways in which the pedagogical approaches stated above can holistically relate with climate solutions and student engagement to ensure sustainability for many generations yet to come.
I plan to analyze the work of the Rural Urban Learning Association (RULA), as well as CSP and the various work integrated learning programming which I have helped execute alongside Dr. Jose Etcheverry, Dale Hamilton, and 224 students from across Canada. The CSP is an inspirational, experiential educational space which is currently being developed and created by our project team and students that are part of our renewable energy and agricultural learning programs aimed at showcasing climate solutions for replicability worldwide. The Climate Solutions Park is also working very closely with the amazing members at the Toronto Black Farmers and Growers Collective, who believe that "that healthy and nutritious food must be made accessible to everyone." RULA is a chartered charitable organization focused on addressing the needs of urban and rural communities and engaging with others to inspire solutions to the climate emergency that are rooted in permaculture, regenerative agriculture and ecological sustainability. It has also focused on Indigenous reconciliation as well as art for social change (including podcasts through innovative partnerships and solutions-oriented documentary film segments).
Codrina Ibanescu is an environmentalist, artist, and humanitarian. As RULA president and CSP research assistant she continues to inspire communities to integrate sustainable and community-engaged practices, principles, and methodologies. She encourages others to adopt ethics, intergenerational justice, and biocentric welfare. Within the last few years, she published her first poetry book titled “Kaleidoscopic Soul” - a collection of mystical and exploratory poems aiming to ignite the spark of authenticity, courage, and soul we are all destined for.
Kimmerer, R. W. (2015). Braiding Sweetgrass. Milkweed Editions.
UN News. (2021, August 9). IPCC report: 'code red' for Human Driven Global Heating, warns UN chief | 1UN news. United Nations.
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