SEAE Research Projects and News
SEAE Researchers Lead Major International Reference Handbook on Childhoodnature
This major reference handbook (80 Chapters include a Companion written by children and young people) is unique and innovative in that it brings together existing research themes and seminal authors in the Childhoodnature field alongside new cutting edge research authored by world class researchers drawing on cross cultural and international research data.
The use of the new concept "Childhoodnature" (coined by Cutter-Mackenzie-Knowles, Malone & Barratt Hacking) reflects the editors' underpinning belief, and the latest innovative concepts in the field, that as children are nature this should be redefined in this integrating concept.
The book therefore critiques and rejects an anthropocentric view of nature. As such it disrupts existing ways of considering children and nature and rejects the view that humans are superior to nature.
The Cluster is leading nationally and internationally funded projects across the broad areas of childhoodnature, climate change education, environmental education and the Arts. Selected projects include:
Mapping Scientific Concepts through Nature Play in Early Childhood Education: Achieving Excellence in STEM through Evidence-Based Pedagogies
Funding Amount: $88,725
Researchers (Chief Investigators): Cutter-Mackenzie-Knowles (Lead CI), Lasczik, Malone (Swinburne, SCU) & Knight (RMIT)
Partners: Nature Play QLD and QLD Early Childhood Education Teachers Network
This project aims to determine how young children's (4-5 years) learning of scientific concepts can be supported through nature play. The increase of children attending kindergarten/preschool continues to rise markedly with 339,243 Australian children enrolled. Coupled with this increase is the rapid surge of nature play pedagogies in kindergartens. However, the effectiveness of nature play is untested, making this the first study in the world to explicitly research nature play in early childhood education. This is significant because nature play is a core feature and tradition of early childhood education practice and pedagogy. This project will forge new knowledge about nature play pedagogies and how they can support children’s scientific learning in early childhood education. Such research supports both the Queensland Department of Education STEM Strategy (2016) and the National STEM Education Strategy (2016-2026) where “it recognises the importance of a focus on STEM in the early years” (p.5).
Mapping A/r/tography: Transnational storytelling across historical and cultural routes of significance
Funding Body: Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SHRCC) – Partnership Development Grant
Funding Amount: $200,000 CAN
Researchers: Irwin (Project Leader), Lasczik (Lead Australian CI), Cutter-Mackenzie-Knowles (Collaborator) and Hotko (Research Associate)
The Mapping A/r/tography partnership builds upon and extends an international community of practice by establishing seven sites for the study of historic contemporary cultural routes of significance while employing movement (walking/hiking/trekking) based research practices within culturally conceived a/r/tographic perspectives: Canada's Trans Canada Trail (three sites), China's Silk Road, Japan's Kumano Kodo Trail, Spain's Camino de Santiago, and Australia's Gondwana Subtropical Rainforests. we are the only Australian partner. Utilizing a distinctly new template for approaches to public pedagogy, this partnership responds to the vital need for innovative models of learning, teaching, and scholarship that create and examine human-land relationships as collective expression grounded in movement of thought (theory) and body (practice) by drawing on a transnational coalition of scholars, students, artists and writers in education.
Funding Body: Australian Government Department of Science, Innovation and Industry
Funding Amount: $49,000
Researchers (Chief Investigators): Cutter-Mackenzie-Knowles (Lead CI), Logan and Laszcik
This project is about increasing young people's participation in Landcare reserves on Tamborine Mountain. Landcare reserves on Tamborine Mountain are interwoven in communities, yet children and young people's awareness of and participation in these sites is largely unknown. The project is about working with children and young people as co-researchers in understanding young people's perspectives and experiences of Tamborine Mountain Landcare reserves.
From that research footing, SCU researchers and co-researchers will co-design resources to position these sites as everyday neighbourhood spaces in order to increase participation.
This project is highly significant because of national and international research reporting rapid declines in young people's participation in natural environments.
Funding Body: NSW Environmental Trust, Australian Association for Environmental Education & Manchester Metropolitan University
Funding Amount: $100,000+
Researchers (Chief Investigators): Cutter-Mackenzie-Knowles (Lead CI), Rousell & Malone
CC+Me is an international research program involving children and young people researching climate change and co-designing and co-publishing climate change education programs, curriculum and research outputs.
Funding Body: Australian Geographic Society
Funding Amount: $15,000
Researchers (Chief Investigators): Cutter-Mackenzie-Knowles (Lead CI), Logan, Laszcik & Canosa
The aim of this project was two-fold: Firstly to understand young people’s marine debris understandings, attitudes and behaviours; and secondly, to support young people to plan, implement and evaluate a campaign to reduce the amount of beach litter left by visiting young people during Schoolies Week in Byron Bay. As researchers, the young people who were co-researchers in this project reached the understanding that the problem was a large and complex one. They discussed in depth the types of litter prevalent on the beach and their own research observations, interviews, photo/video-based research and understandings of the issues. Through this complex research process, the co-researchers collectively decided to target cigarette butts as they thought that by focusing in on this one important issue, they could concentrate on an intervention that could be managed by their small group.
CubeWalk was a funded project and consists of a network of interactive public artworks which have been installed across the Lismore campus of Southern Cross University. CubeWalk draws on the natural and cultural dimensions of the campus to create spaces for engaging with sustainability as a dynamic process of social and ecological change.
Impact & News
- SEAE’s research impact in childhood environmental education evaluated at the highest level in Australia’s Engagement and Impact evaluation. See https://www.scu.edu.au/research/our-research/engagement-and-impact/learning-about-sustainability-through-play/
- UK Conversation article by Rousell & Cutter-Mackenzie-Knowles (Climate Change School Strikes) – https://theconversation.com/climate-change-young-people-striking-from-school-see-it-for-the-life-threatening-issue-it-is-111159
- New grant awarded by the Australian Association for Environmental Education in the Climate Change + Me International Research Program - http://climatechangeandme.com.au/
- New book on Socioecological Learning by SEAE Researchers – Palgrave McMillian - https://www.palgrave.com/us/book/9783030122119