Pedagogies for Water Justice Around the Great Lakes

Paul Baines (Great Lakes Commons) and I co-hosted a video campfire in late November, 2016 on teaching about water and social justice  around the Great Lakes. Attached here is the video. We asked people who teach about water in a range of sites–universities, community-based organizations–schools to share their thoughts on 3 questions: what they are doing now, a resource or project they have been wanting to do, some ideas for linking people around the Great Lakes. Coming soon….a list of resources recommended by the participants……

Terrific list of participants included:
Paul Baines, Great Lakes Commons, Outreach and Education coordinator. Paul leaped into the GLC work after reading ‘Our Great Lakes Commons: a peoples plan to protect the Great Lakes forever’ and then founded the Great Lakes Commons Map in 2012 to crowdsource people’s worry and wisdom for water health through data, discussion and story. He comes to this water reconciliation work with a background in critical pedagogy, democratic media, and environmental and cultural studies. He just finished a 5 month tour of the Great Lakes connecting people, issues, and perspectives.

Sheila Boudreau is a landscape architect and urban designer at the City of Toronto, with over twenty years professional experience in both the public and private sectors. She represents the OALA on the Green Infrastructure Ontario Coalition Steering Committee, and acts as an advisor for Ryerson Urban Water courses related to blue/green infrastructure. She recently organized a weekend-long hack-a-thon for over 70+ students in Toronto, in which interdisciplinary teams designed innovative contributions to blue/green infrastructure in an intensive weekend of workshops, talks and social events.

Marcie Cunningham is a partner in CGC Educational Communications. She and her partner John Gregory are working on several water literacy projects, two of which were created for the Ontario Clean Water Agency (OCWA) and are rolling out across the province. The OneWater program, operating in over 20 school boards, brings local water operators into the Grade 8 classrooms to work with students to explore local water, both clean and wastewater, and their personal responsibilities to “treat our water well.” As an adjunct to that program CGC has created The Changing Great Lakes, a program focused on the geography and art curriculum, which engages students in their local watershed to develop an understanding of the affect that climate change is having on our Great Lakes. A range of activities, from a field trip encompassing “a Portrait of the Shoreline,” to innovating local solutions to climate change adaptation in their homes, schools and communities gives students an opportunity to get tangibly engaged in the Great Lakes’ issues. This program is currently in pilot test in several Ontario classrooms.

Stephen P. Gasteyer is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at Michigan State University. Dr. Gasteyer’s research focuses on the nexus between water, land, community development. Specifically, his research currently addresses: 1) community capacity development and civic engagement through leadership training; 2) the political and social processes that enable or hinder community access to water and land resources, specifically (but not exclusively) in rural communities; 3) the class and race effects of access to basic services (water, sanitation, food, health care); 4) community capacity, community resilience and water systems management; 5) the impacts of greening in economically depressed small cities; 6) the community aspects of bioenergy development; 7) international social movements and community rights to basic services; and 8) facilitating cross-sectoral and interdisciplinary partnerships to address water and land resources management.

Rachel Havrelock is Associate Professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago and author of River Jordan: The Mythology of a Dividing Line (University of Chicago Press, 2011). After writing about how the conflicted borders of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict formed and congealed in Palestinian and Israeli cultures for River Jordan, Rachel became invested in water sharing as an approach to Middle East peacemaking. Havrelock’s current book project, Pipeline: How Oil Created the Modern Middle East and How Water Can Transform It, chronicles the role of oil extraction and infrastructure in the militarization of the Middle East and suggests how regional water management could transform the landscape. In addition to the Middle East, Rachel’s work addresses the Great Lakes as a transborder water system both abundant and imperiled. She has been awarded a Global Midwest grant from the Mellon Foundation in order to explore the common challenges of international transborder water systems; she is developing a web-site on water and the environmental humanities.

Deborah McGregor is Associate Professor and Canada Research Chair Indigenous Environmental Justice. Her research has focused on Indigenous knowledge systems and their various applications in diverse contexts including water and environmental governance, environmental justice, forest policy and management, and sustainable development. She is currently involved in three more: “Indigenous Knowledge Transfer in Urban Aboriginal Communities” with Professor Kim Anderson (Wilfred Laurier University); “Maple Syrup, Climate Change and Resilience: A Longitudinal Study” with Professor Brenda Murphy (Wilfred Laurier University); and “Exploring Distinct Indigenous Knowledge Systems to Inform Fisheries Governance and Management on Canada’s Coasts” with Professor Lucia Fanning (Dalhousie University).

Bonnie McElhinny is Associate Professor of Anthropology and Women and Gender Studies at the University of Toronto. She teaches courses and does research on water, anti-racist, feminist and de-colonial approaches to place, migration and multiculturalism, and language and social justice. Her most recent co-edited book was Filipinos in Canada: Disturbing Invisibility; she has written on the Oak Ridges Moraine. Her course Living at the Water’s Edge in Toronto, was cited out as one of 14 innovative pedagogical initiatives at U of T for building connections with community partners. Singled out for particular attention was a partnership with Lake Ontario Waterkeeper (LOW), in which first year students participated in a pilot project for collecting watermark stories. She has also taken students to Hawai’I to engage in land and water restoration projects, in a course on critiques of multiculturalism and settler colonialism. This year, she again partnered with LOW at the Great Lakes Public Forum; 40 students gathered over 150 watermark stories from participants. This work was featured in an article in the Great Lakes Connection (newsletter of the International Joint Commission) which went out out to 17,000 stakeholders interested in transforming the Great Lakes.

Elizabeth Miller is an independent documentary maker, trans-media artist, and professor at Concordia University. She is interested in new approaches to community collaborations and the documentary format and my work connects personal stories to larger social concerns. My new project, The Shore Line, is in interactive documentary looking at the tensions between unchecked development and climate change on coastal towns and cities around the world. Her film Hands-on: women, climate, change profiles five women from four continents tacking climate change through policy, protest, education and innovation. She developed the film in collaboration with directors from Kenya, India, Norway and Canada, all IAWRT (International Association of Women in Radio and Film) members. Her documentary film The Water Front (2007) brings the controversial issue of water privatization in Michigan to the larger public.

Andrea Most is Professor of American Literature and Jewish Studies in the Department of English at the University of Toronto. She teaches and conducts research in the areas of modern American literature and culture, Jewish cultural studies, the environmental humanities, food studies, theatre and performance. Selected as a Jackman Humanities Institute Faculty Fellow on the special theme of Food for 2012-13, Prof. Most continues to conduct research on the relationship between Jews, Judaism and agriculture in the modern era, with a special focus on the contemporary Jewish food movement. She works as a co-founder and designer of Bela Farm, a centre for land-based Judaism in Southwestern Ontario and as an activist in the Jewish food movement both locally and internationally. Prof. Most’s current research and teaching focus broadly on the crucial role of the humanities in confronting environmental crisis. As part of this initiative, this year she will be completing an ecocritical memoir entitled A Pain in the Neck and developing a new experiential pedagogy for teaching in the environmental humanities.

Alexandra Thompson is a Lecturer at Lakehead University. Alex Thomson was born in Toronto and has spent much of her formative years in north central Ontario, including the coniferous forests on Anishnaabe territory near Sudbury and Temagami, Ont. She has been a canoe guide, outdoor education instructor, and workshop facilitator. Alex teaches many sections of the required course Aboriginal Education, EDUC 4416 and the elective Outdoor Experiential Ecological Education. She enjoys learning about the forest, ecosystems and waterways of the Orillia area. Alex is studying to become an naturalist through the Kamana Naturalist Training Program. She completed a Masters Degree at Trent University in Canadian and Indigenous Studies, a B.A. in Social Justice Studies at McGill University and a B.Ed. from Lakehead in Thunder Bay Intermediate/Senior with teachables in Native Studies and Outdoor Experiential Ecological Education.

Krystyn Tully is vice president and co-founder of Lake Ontario Waterkeeper. Krystyn Tully has been organizing community events and organizations since her days as a high school student in Oshawa, Ontario. Since co-founding Lake Ontario Waterkeeper with Mark Mattson in 2001, Tully has written or edited more than 400 articles about water and environmental policy. She has appeared before numerous municipal, provincial, and federal government committees. For four years, she coordinated a mentoring program that connected aspiring lawyers with communities facing environmental challenges. For two years, she was editor and co-host of a weekly radio program. In 2012, she wrote a series of features on beaches for blogTO and became a regular contributor to Huffington Post. Through Ryerson University’s part-time degree program, Tully has received extensive education in Public Administration and Governance, with a specialization in nonprofit sector management. She was profiled in NOW Magazine’s “Class Action” feature in October, 2012.

Marie Wee is an undergraduate student in women and gender studies/equity studies. She is taking a course with Dr. McElhinny on water and social justice issues, and will offer an undergraduate student’s perspective on pedagogical needs and projects


Virtual Campfire Discussion: Water Pedagogies – YouTube

On November 29, 2016, educators from around the Great Lakes joined in a conversation on the tools and methods to incorporate a ‘water curriculum’ in the…