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Greener education focus of Childhood-Nature conference


Anne-Louise Brown
2 February 2015
Education researchers from across Australia and the world will gather on the Gold Coast from February 2 to 6 for a ground-breaking Southern Cross University colloquium on children and their relationship with nature.

Organised by the School of Education’s Associate Professor Amy Cutter-Mackenzie and Dr Marianne Logan, the aim of the Childhood-Nature colloquium is to act as a meeting place for researchers in this niche area.

It will follow a unique structure, beginning at Binna Burra Lodge in Lamington National Park, moving on to the nature-focused and independent Silkwood School at Mount Nathan for a session with students and culminating in a public dialogue on Childhood-Nature at Southern Cross University’s Gold Coast campus.

Professor Cutter-Mackenzie said the colloquium would be a meeting place for leading researchers from across the world to share ideas and a chance for members of the public to learn more about the field of environmental education through a public dialogue.

“This event is about bringing researchers together and capturing our voices with the aim of producing an international handbook on childhood and nature, something which has never been done,” she said.

“The other aim is to engage with the public in terms of having a dialogue around children and nature because often a lot of research stays at the university and members of the public aren’t exposed to it or don’t understand what it means.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity for members of the public to learn about our research and engage in a dialogue with researchers about childhood and nature in an open forum. We want mums, dads, teachers – anyone – to come and join in.”

Dr Logan said the colloquium was different to usual academic conferences as it will be participant driven, with ideas arising from discussion.

“What we’re doing is meeting up in the beautiful natural environment of Binna Burra and staying in a cottage in the forest, sharing meals and experiencing nature together,” she said.

“Our trip to Silkwood School is about the children sharing their ideas about nature with us. In essence they’ll be teaching us. The Silkwood School is independent and has a substantial focus on the environment, sustainability and self-driven learning.”

The ideas arising from the colloquium will provide content for a co-edited international handbook on childhood and nature authored and edited by leading researchers from around the world.

Register for the public dialogue.
Photo: Associate Professor Amy Cutter-Mackenzie and Dr Marianne Logan.