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Earthducation Expedition 2 team will investigate oil exploration, renewable energy, sustainable fishing, toxic pollutants, school logistics, land and water rights, and culture and language in the indigenous Sami communities of northern Norway.

U of M's Earthducation Expedition 2 heads to the Arctic

U of M adventure team will explore links between education and sustainability in far-reaching outposts of Norway

Contacts: Cassie Scharber, Earthducation Education Coordinator, scharber@umn.edu, (651) 485-8314
Nick Hanson, University News Service, hanson@umn.edu, (612) 624-1690

(08/15/2011) —How can students get a quality education in a remote village miles above the Arctic Circle? What does global change mean for a 1,000-year-old commercial fishery?

Earthducation Expedition 2 aims to find out—and share what it learns with teachers and students around the world. The expedition is the second in a series of seven-continent explorations investigating the intersection between education and sustainability.

Led by Aaron Doering and Charles Miller of the University of Minnesota’s College of Education and Human Development, it will set out August 23 for the sparsely populated, mountainous regions of Norway located almost entirely above the Arctic Circle.

“Northern Norway embodies a rugged, water-saturated landscape, a blend of remote villages and small cities, several distinct cultures and languages and a number of diverse ecosystems,” Doering said. “These factors have led to some unique educational and environmental challenges, with creative commitments to sustainability. We want to learn about those challenges and the solutions local people have crafted so we can share them with others around the world.”

With financial support from the University’s Institute on the Environment and the Learning Technologies Media Lab, the Earthducation Expedition 2 team will investigate oil exploration, renewable energy, sustainable fishing, toxic pollutants, school logistics, land and water rights and culture and language in the indigenous Sami communities of northern Norway.

Stops include Tromsø, the largest city north of the Arctic Circle and a hub of Arctic climate research; the Lofoten islands, home to a 1,000-year-old cod fishing industry and the world’s deepest cold-water coral reef; and Drag, a remote community with a unique school that merges Sami and Norwegian language and culture and is also home to Árran, a Sami cultural center with a kindergarten and videoconferencing facilities that provide distance education programs to high school students.

Along the way, the explorers will ask local people a single question: “How do education and sustainability intersect in your life?” Through this inquiry the team will explore the daily and lifelong learning that begins in the home, school and community, as well how different cultures live responsibly and within limits to ensure a healthy future for generations to come. They will post their findings online in the EnviroNetwork, where teachers, students and others around the world can view and discuss them.

Earthducation Expedition 1, which Doering and Miller led last January, explored the interface of education and sustainability in Burkina Faso, one of the world’s poorest nations. The team traveled more than 1,000 miles across the country and interviewed more than 35 individuals, including kings, elders, government officials, teachers, students and the public.

They also documented three extraordinary sustainability narratives: an individual's mission to protect the land from deforestation, a shea-butter factory run by widowed women to pay for their children's education and a community-led garden project in a rural village. Future expeditions are planned for Australia, South America, Asia, North America and Antarctica.

“By gathering stories about education and environment from around the world, we hope to create a foundation for embedding sustainability in learning at all levels and in all cultures,” Miller said. “Ultimately, we anticipate that the Earthducation EnviroNetwork will be the world’s leading online community focused exclusively on the increasingly vital fusion of education and sustainability.”

For more information on Earthducation, to follow Expedition 2 and to add your message to the global narrative, please visit the Earthducation EnviroNetwork at www.earthducation.com.

Tags: College of Education and Human Development, Institute on Environment

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