Environmental History in the Classroom

Photo: James F Clay

Scroll this

A three-way collaborative project between NiCHE, the UWO Public History students (2009-10) and Ecokids to create and disseminate curriculum based materials that promote knowledge of Canadian environmental history. The project is available via the Ecokids website.

uwo-logoEvery year thousands of university students write thousands of exams to prove they have learned something. Each year, a groups of UWO Master’s students in the Public History program opt instead for something more practical. Just in time for Earth Day — April 22nd — this year’s students are putting the finishing touches on a series of historical lesson plans that engage elementary school students with environmental problems for our past.

The three-way collaboration between the MA students, the Network in Canadian History and Environment (NiCHE) and Earth Day Canada’s EcoKids program has been in the works for just over a year and the finished product should be ready for Ontario teachers in time for the upcoming school year. The lesson plans, based on the Ontario social studies curriculum, will be freely disseminated through Earth Day Canada’s EcoKids program (Earth Day is a national environmental charity that specializes in environmental education.) The EcoKids website, accessible through www.earthday.ca is used by thousands of teachers across the country, which will ensure that the work of these students will make a real impact on Canadian education.

earth-day-canada1Adam Crymble of NiCHE and a graduate of the UWO Public History program himself proposed the project because “the students were going to work on a project regardless. Why not focus their energy on a project that benefits all Ontarians?” The project cost the taxpayers nothing and provided the students with valuable experience creating educational materials. Michelle Hamilton, the Professor in charge of the project feels the partnership offered students the opportunity to practice Public History, not just to learn about it. Public History vis about making history accessible, useful and interesting to the public. It also trains students to merge the historical research skills usually learned in graduate school with other practical skills, in this case, curriculum design and writing for a non-university audience. The Public History students are pleased to see their work distributed to such a wide audience. “The collaboration was a valuable one, seeing as we don’t always have the opportunity to undertake group work in history,” they also said.

NiCHE is a non-profit network of scholars that seeks to disseminate knowledge of Canada’s environmental history. Earth Day Canada’s EcoKids is a free, environmental education program that offers curriculum-linked materials and activities for Canadian elementary schools to engage in environmental action. The UWO Public History program has been collaborating with cultural, educational and heritage institutions to teach students to engage the public with their passion for history since 1986.

UWO Public History Students, 2009-10

Key Links

Resources / Ressources
Student Reflection
UWO Public History Program


NiCHE encourages comments and constructive discussion of our articles. We reserve the right to delete comments that fail to meet our guidelines including comments under aliases, or that contain spam, harassment, or attacks on an individual.