Semilla: A Community-University Partnership for Environmental Education

Author(s): Olivia Caravaggio
Published: 2017
Type: M.E.S. Papers/Theses

This portfolio is a collection of pieces from a community-based participatory and action research project called Semilla: A community-university partnership for environmental education. Semilla is a project that began in February 2017 with communities in The Alexander Skutch Biological Corridor [ASBC] in Costa Rica and graduate students (Olivia Caravaggio and Natalie Cummins) from York University. The project aims to understand the impact of a community engagement initiative on community-university relations. The community engagement initiative is a partnership between graduate students and the community to develop an environmental education resource. To identify changes in university-community relations, we investigate: (1) community members’ perspectives of York University and community-university relations before participation in the development of the environmental education resource; (2) community members’ perspectives of developing the environmental education resource; (3) community members’ perspectives of York University and university-community relations after participation in the development of the environmental education resource. This portfolio includes a culmination of activities completed in (1) and includes voices from 49 community members and school staff and 143 students. In total, 192 participants contributed their ideas to this first phase of the project. This portfolio includes: (a) the environmental education resource developed with the community called Semilla: An environmental education resource; (b) a findings summary of community perspectives of York University and community-university relations called Community-university relations and partnerships in the ASBC: Community voices and recommendations; (c) a video that describes the development of the environmental education resource. The intended audience of (a) and (b) are the general community in the ASBC and at York University, while the intended audience of the video (c) is students. In the video, we aimed to demonstrate how students’ voices were used in the development of the project and honour their contributions. Community collaboration, honouring the voice of the child, and knowledge exchange and mobilization are all priorities in this project. For this reason, all project pieces shared in this portfolio have been translated and will be shared at a knowledge mobilization event at the York University’s EcoCampus on December 8th, 2017. The event is open to all community members in the ASBC. At this event, we will be sharing and distributing the environmental education resource and the community-university relations findings summary, as well as screening the video. Findings in phase one of this project contributes to knowledge surrounding environmental education curriculum and pedagogy and community-university partnerships. In the development of the environmental education resource we found that community members are interested and eager to continue and expand environmental education in their communities. We found that communities are interested in the following environmental topics: water, trees and plants, animals, waste, agriculture, and interconnectedness. In considering community-university relations we found that community members are interested and eager to partner with York University more. Community members also shared recommendations for York University’s work in the community. It is the hope that these findings will contribute to continued partnership, collaboration and knowledge exchange between communities in the ASBC and York University for environmental education and beyond.

A copy of this portfolio is available through the YorkU Space website