The Earthducation project evolved from nearly 10 years of delivering adventure learning (AL) projects to tens of millions of students and teachers around the globe. As Aaron embarked upon these AL programs and collaborated with diverse cultures in locations ranging from the Arctic to the South Africa, it became evident that there were exhilarating narratives and experiences, large and small, that needed a worldwide outlet and global community. Thus, Earthducation was born.
The goal of Earthducation is to address the challenge set forth by the United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (2005-2014, DESD) – to integrate the principles, values, and practices of sustainable development into all aspects of education and learning. Understanding these connections between education and the natural environment on local scales will enable and empower change in education on a global scale, as it provides structure for modeling new approaches to education for sustainable development.
As such, the Earthducation team is traveling to climate hotspots on all the continents, documenting environmental issues and educational practices, and working together with a broad array of individuals, communities, and organizations to create an ecological narrative of educational beliefs. Teachers, students, and the online community are expanding upon and discussing these same issues in the online EnviroNetwork as we collectively explore how education can influence the future of our planet.
The project team is documenting the communities they visit through photos, videos, and field reports. These rich collections of data are being posted online while the team is in the field. The data are housed at earthducation.com. Each expedition site includes background information about the communities and environmental issues being explored, along with associated educational resources and classroom activities for teachers.
The expeditions to date have been highly successful. We have collected over 200 formal interviews, and received more than 200 video posts to the EnviroNetwork. In addition, the team has captured thousands of gigabytes of media, with hundreds of photos and dozens of hours of video and audio files documenting local culture and capturing the voices of a diverse range of individuals.
Earthducation Expedition 1: Burkina Faso, Africa
In this first official expedition, the team explored Burkina Faso, a small, landlocked, and impoverished nation where 80 percent of the population relies on subsistence agriculture and the community is facing tremendous impacts from climate change. The team journeyed over 1,000 miles by car and motorcycle, visiting and interviewing a broad array of individuals in 17 towns, cities, and villages.
Earthducation Expedition 2: Northern Norway, Europe
This sparsely populated, mountainous region of Norway comprises three counties (Nordland, Troms, and Finnmark) and sits almost entirely north of the Arctic Circle. The team explored the rugged, water-saturated landscape as they journeyed through a mix of remote villages and small cities, encountering several distinct cultures and languages and a number of diverse ecosystems. All told they traveled by car and boat over 1,000 miles, making stops in 10 towns, cities, and villages.
Earthducation Expedition 3: Australia
Australia is one of the most biologically diverse continents on Earth. While there, the team traveled from the most densely populated region (the city of Sydney in New South Wales) to the most sparsely populated (the Northern Territory), before heading east to visit the Great Barrier Reef communities along the Queensland coast. The team covered several thousand miles by plane, car, and boat, and was able to capture a great diversity of the cultures, landscapes, and ecosystems that make up this unique continent.
Earthducation Expedition 4: South America
South America is a continent of extremes, home to the world’s highest waterfall (Angel Falls), driest desert (Atacama), largest rainforest (Amazon), greatest river (Amazon), and longest mountain range (Andes). While there, the team traveled from the Amazon Rainforest in Peru to the Atacama Desert and Patagonia in Chile. They investigated fog harvesting and traditional cultures; tested their mettle in the world’s driest desert and learned about how life is sustained there; traveled by motorized canoe down one of the greatest rivers on Earth to visit an indigenous rainforest community; and met with some of the gauchos (cowboys) in the grasslands of Patagonia. They also spent time at schools discussing the unique educational challenges that face the many remote and isolated communities on this spectacular continent.
Earthducation Expedition 5: North America
In April 2013, Earthducation joined forces with the project for Expedition 5: North America. A small team of explorers pulked over 100 miles through remote Arctic wilderness between the Inuit hamlets of Qikiqtarjuaq and Pangnirtung on Baffin Island in Nunavut, Canada. They also visited schools and interviewed elders and community members about the changing climate, landscape, and culture.