Olivia Caravaggio & Natalie Cummins

From February 2017 to May 2017 MES students Olivia Caravaggio and Natalie Cummins will implement a community-based participatory action research project in the communities of Santa Elena, Quizarra, and Monte Carlo. The project is focused on exploring the impact of a family environmental education (EE) program on promoting positive partnership and knowledge exchange between a university and surrounding communities.

In this proposed research project, a community engagement initiative will be collaboratively developed by York University graduate students and communities that reside in the Alexander Skutch Biological Corridor: Quizarra, Santa Elena, and Monte Carlo. Through various consultation sessions, school staff, students, community members and researchers will collaborate to develop a family EE program. The family EE program will be led collaboratively, once a week at each school, by the PIs, key local community partners, and school staff. A key participatory research method in this project includes the use of photograph. Cameras will be available to participants to document their experience in the family EE program. The program will conclude with a feedback session where participants can share their thoughts, reflect on the program and review and comment on photographs taken during the program. The proposed research study will result in a program curriculum manual for school staff, a multimedia digital story that highlights participant experience, a flyer outlining the project findings and academic articles.

Olivia and Natalie are both Early Childhood Educators with a passion for environmental education, community-based programming and family education. Olivia and Natalie will work in partnership for much of the implementation of this proposed project, although their key research questions and areas of concentration differ. Olivia Caravaggio is interested in the role of the family EE program as a mechanism for fostering intergenerational learning and knowledge exchange between academic institutions and communities. Natalie Cummins is interested in university-community partnerships and best practices in community engagement initiatives.