Call for Abstracts

Abstract submission is now closed and notification letters have now been sent to the abstract submitter. If you have not yet received your notification letter, please contact WEEC2017 at with your abstract ID.

The 9th WEEC (World Environmental Education Congress) will be held in Vancouver, Canada, September 9-15, 2017. The title of the Congress is CulturEnvironment: Weaving new connections. The Organizing Committee for the congress is BC’s Institute for Environmental Learning (IEL) in cooperation with the WEEC Permanent Secretariat.

Hosted by SFU, the Institute for Environmental Learning (IEL) is a collaborative of researchers and practitioners committed to high quality environmental and sustainability learning in British Columbia. Our members come from a variety of institutions including universities, colleges, school districts, community groups, non-profit organizations, and provincial and regional governments. Over 1,000 delegates are expected to attend the Congress. The organizing committee in 2017 will embrace different approaches in both the conceptualization and implementation of EE worldwide.

Our theme in 2017 is Culture/Environment. This focuses on the multi-disciplinarity nature of the congress and a developing view that Culture and Environment are inseparable and may even arise from within each other. Such a theme of environmentalism underscores a need to abandon notions that everything is measurable or under human control. The real paradigm of environmental thinking is uncertainty in the ways forward vs. the idea that ‘progress’ is unavoidable. Cultural change is also the necessary condition/requirement to rebuild and reinvent our relation with nature and live sustainably. Therefore, with this call for papers we promote NETWORK/ACTION/COALITION. WEEC 2017 (Vancouver) will be a congress of Cultural and Environmental mobilization.

Kindly note that accepted abstracts will be published in a congress proceedings as well as a special issue of the Journal Eco-thinking. Further details will be available shortly.

Congress Themes

Early Childhood Education and EE

There is a growth of Early Childhood programs that explore the possibilities of taking children beyond the four walls and the play-yard fence. Challenging ideas of education, these programs are moving educators and children into the “larger community” (Thomas Berry) and encouraging educators to think about “place-relational pedagogies” (Manion and Lynch, 2016). Listening to the trees, getting to know the worms and weather of their local place, educators and children are appreciating and learning to move in their more-intimate spaces. In some communities, Indigenous worldviews and narratives are enriching the exploration of local spaces.

Our lives are woven into the place in which we live, work and play. Re-discovering our relationship to the living, breathing sensible world offers the possibility of new narratives. What narratives might these be? How can new narratives guide our work as educators? What narratives do children look for and how can we listen to the narratives that await us when we venture outside with children?

What can you share from your experience as a practitioner, researcher or inquirer to add to this discussion of how children and educators are moving outside to explore their local terrain and community, as well as themselves?

Place-based Education and Local Outdoor Learning

There is wealth of literature around the importance of connecting in/with/to places, particularly local outdoor places, for mental, physical, and socio-emtoinal health and wellbeing of individuals, communities, and societies; for the development and practice of a sustainability/environmental ethic; and as a means towards creating authentic, meaningful, and just learning experiences.

The Place-based Education and Local Outdoor Learning thread weaves together emergent research and practice from these two fields, inviting specific consideration of time spent outdoors (TSO) in relation to in-/non- and formal learning contexts, local curricular mandates, teacher education and professional development, health and wellbeing, ethics, pedagogy, and more. Contributions of place-based and local outdoor learning notions from various environmental education related fields are welcomed, for example: sustainability education, adventure education, health education, physical education, science education, social studies education, and others.

If the "average North American spends less than 10% of their life outdoors" (see Architecture and Green Design theme), then efforts being made to counter this unhealthy (in the broadest sense) trend, and increase TSO during learning experiences, are important to discuss. Through a sharing of our stories, potential for action (in an Arendtian sense) occurs. Through action, there emerges possibility to shift of our work and appreciate our labour.

Architecture and Green Design

In this thematic strand, participants are encouraged to share, discuss, and reflect on the relationship between sustainable architecture and environmental education.  Research suggests that the average North American spends less than 10% of their life outdoors; this highlights the importance of including the ‘built environment’ and the effect on its users when discussing environmental education.

Since the birth of the environmental movement in the last century, the architectural community has responded by taking the initiative to develop several Green building standards, which are focused on promoting the reduction of harmful effects on the environment and on human health in the design and construction of buildings.  These include: LEED, which stands for “Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design”; the Living Building Challenge, developed by the International Living Future Institute, which is committed to a transformation towards a socially and ecologically just world; and the WELL Building Standard, which focuses on the features of the built environment that impact human health and well-being. New concepts such as bio-mimicry, cradle to cradle and life cycle analysis are now integral to green design thinking.

How can environmental and sustainability education contribute to an intellectual engagement with the principles of social, economic, and ecological sustainability that is inclusive of the built environment?

Arts Based Approaches in EE

Arts based environmental education involves an integrated interweaving of the arts, in their broadest sense, and awareness, knowledge and sensitivity to ecological ways of being and environmental activism.

Education (writ large) may include informal/ non-formal education spaces, community education and schooling at all levels.The arts in this context include fine and performing arts, practical arts, traditional and Indigenous arts and practices, and new transdisciplinary experimentation. Sculpture, painting, drawing, drama, music, performance, film and animation, design, dance, masks, fibre arts, carving, comix, poetry, and more may be included (and brought together) in arts-based approaches.

We hope to explore ways the arts and environmental awareness are mutually shaping and enriching, via reports on research, examples of programs, experiential workshops, participatory discussions seminars and hands-on making and doing.

Agriculture and Garden-Based Learning

Agriculture and gardening are fundamental ways in which we create and express our ‘culturenvironment.’  For thousands of years, humans have worked within their bioregional ecosystems to grow food to sustain themselves.  Various cultures and regions around the world have developed many diverse agricultural methods and types of gardens, imbued with cultural and social significance.  What can these teach us about environmental cycles, systems, community interactions, and sustainable agriculture?

Why do we cultivate land? What are the ecological ethics involved in choosing agriculture and gardens, in managing the earth?  Who benefits, and how?

This WEEC 2017 theme welcomes proposals that address these and similar questions.  We are also eager to accept proposals investigating: ways that agriculture and gardens foster community, among humans and between humans and the greater ecosystem; how agriculture and garden-based learning contribute to local food movements, issues of food security, or developing indigenous food sovereignty; novel methods and methodologies for (in)formal education based in gardens or agricultural settings, including school yard gardens; the effects of embodied, physical sensations of tending the soil and caring for plants; how we can understand and make meaning in garden or agricultural settings beyond the growing of food, such as exploring sensory, aesthetic, spiritual, or historical meanings.  As agriculture and garden-based learning is a broad, interdisciplinary theme, these are mere suggestions in a wide field of possibilities.

Global and Cultural Diversity in EE

This theme explores, celebrates, and challenges various cultural perspectives as they apply to socio-ecological systems and their specific influences on environmental education pedagogy. The principles of a multicultural EE include but are not limited to the following: it provides critique to ideologies and forces that oppress people and nature, it seeks transformation through research, imagination and action, it seeks to provide voice to marginalized and underrepresented populations. Many practitioners of Multicultural Environmental Education engage in self‐reflection to understand the forces and influences that shape their culture, race, politics which then impact environmental and social justice movements.

Urban Eco-systems

Urban environments and their associated ecological communities are distinct from natural ecosystems and can be considered as unique including both cultural and ecological components. As such, the study of urban ecology includes not only the description of the physical, chemical and biological aspects of a place and the response of species to urban circumstances, but also social issues related to the political and psychological forces that contribute a broader understanding of the ecology of place. Presentations in this theme of WEEC 2017 can include topics as diverse as indicator species, the value of a watershed approach to ecological restoration or the importance of “listening” to the history and social influences of a place.  There are also numerous opportunities in urban environmental education for student and community engagement through citizen science and environmental stewardship. We would like to hear examples of case studies, problem-based learning, field-work, lab projects, community collaborations and other approaches to environmental education that highlight how students can better understand and explore the unique nature of urban ecosystems.

Environmental Communication (and Uncertainty)

We are all communicators; our effectiveness at the craft is often a function of just how aware that we are that we are always communicating. The realm of environmental communications is very broad, with some practitioners using prose, sound and image meant to inspire and open new insights in audiences, while others apply a wide range of argumentation and attempts at persuasion and influence. Environmental communication researchers investigate the impact of diverse communication efforts, dissect a range of media, examine the way that governments, corporations and non-governmental organizations present themselves and their issues, theorize about the meaning and efficacy of approaches and outcomes, and experiment on different ways to convey messages and influence audiences.

We anticipate that this thread will be seeded with a range of topics that will be meaningful to and for practitioners and researchers alike.

Indigenous Knowledge and EE

This theme provides a forum to highlight the work of Indigenous people around the world who currently lead and contribute significantly to a range of initiatives in environmental education, activism, policy development, and research for the benefit of Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities alike. In this context, many non-Indigenous people are also attempting to engage respectfully with Indigenous peoples in relation to the sharing and use of traditional ecological knowledge (TEK), development of educational programs, activism and advocacy in response to contemporary environmental issues, and research. Conscious of such dynamics, this theme is further informed by theoretical concepts such as decolonization, reconciliation, cultural revitalization, and self-determination in Canada and beyond.

Ethics Lead Learning and Sustainability

Description will be available shortly.

Social Responsibility and Agency/Activism

Pedagogy for social responsibility and agency aims to create learning conditions that develop greater learner awareness of socioeconomic context, power relations, political consciousness and opportunities for social action. Transformative learning pedagogical practices, including those developed in the context of consciousness-raising and women’s education in the 1970s, can be applied to contemporary challenges confronted in environmental education. Designing holistic, participatory and practical pedagogic strategies for increased agency is important for environmental education to overcome the persistent gap wherein awareness of environmental problems and adoption of ecocentric values are not clearly connected with possibilities for agency in the public realm. This conference theme invites presentations that focus on instructional practices designed to foster learning conditions that facilitate new social capacities to act on the basis of new environmental educational insights and values. Presenters are invited to submit papers that explore ways to make this shift from ecological knowledge to social action. Examples of such strategies include, but are not limited to: community as learning partner, applied practice, place based solutions, arts based inquiry, performance, interdisciplinary collaborations, action oriented leadership, dialogue and critical systems thinking.

Nature as Teacher / Nature as Researcher

Welcome to the Anthropocene, a new geological era that calls for a substantial re-thinking of the relationships between humans and between non-human others. Recent philosophical conversations such as posthumanism, ecophenomenology, ecosemiotics, new materialisms, object oriented ontology, and naïve realism, just to name a few, seek to explore this emerging world and are having an influence across diverse research fields (e.g. anthropology, geography, political science, natural science). It thus behooves education, in particular the environmental docket, to consider these conversations while exploring some of the implications for curriculum, pedagogy, and research. This strand seeks proposals that explore research and examinations/examples of practices that are actively engaged in re-thinking/re-engaging/re-negotiating the relationship. We are particularly interested in proposals that seek to actually bring their co-partners into the presentation. Being immersed in and engaging with the more-than-world as a necessary part of the presentation/conversation is highly encouraged.

Global Policy and Environmental Education

Communities, non-profit organizations, schools and universities may be affected by policies that are not always consistent with one another and offer both varying opportunities and challenges for addressing environment and sustainability in a meaningful way. This strand investigates existing and new policies and policy innovations that offer promise for enabling change for a more sustainable future, including educational institutions’ approaches and policies concerning curriculum, research, facilities operations, governance, and broader engagement with community and place.

Perspectives, Challenges and Innovation in Research

For this strand, presenters and participants are encouraged to share, reflect on and discuss the(ir) researching of environmental and sustainability education. A critical review of the research's focus, design and outcomes – what has worked, what has not, on what grounds, and with what implications for the field of ESE research - is strongly encouraged.

NOTE: This above list separates what is inseparable and the congress themes need to be considered as interconnected. Wherever possible, abstracts (300 words or less) should aim to create links among the selected strands. Proposals can also be directed towards an teacher/educator or researcher audience (or both) and formats will be announced after review by the Scientific Committee. The submission site is now ready to receive your proposals. To begin go to and click on “submit abstract” under the program menu. You will be prompted to register for the site and submit your abstracts.

Important Dates

Extended Abstract Submission Deadline April 30, 2017 (23:59 PST)
Author Notification of Acceptance May 19, 2017
Presenting Author Registration Deadline May 31, 2017
Early Registration Deadline May 31, 2017

Session Formats

During the congress various formats are envisioned for the sharing of research and practice within the 14 sub-themes described in the previous section.  These will include a number of symposia, novel format, paper sesions, round tables and interactive poster sessions. Although most session formats will be presented in English, the congress will will try to accommodate where possible authors to have language interpretation on request.

Each of these formats are described here:

A symposium usually involves a panel of experts or stakeholders who examine a specific theme or issue. The proposer controls presentations, discussion, and questioning with the assistance of the presider/discussant. Discussion will promote the expression of alternative viewpoints and theoretical positions. This format will be mostly reserved for plenary or general sessions.

Novel Format
In these sessions, presenters share work in an alternative format. There may be a number of novel format presentations scheduled at any time and these may occur inside meetings spaces or in public areas during the meeting. A facilitator will introduce the presenter(s) and will keep time for the session. Novel formats can be assigned timeslots from 30 minutes to 90-minutes, but normally individual presenters  will be allotted 30 minutes.

Paper Sessions
Only a limited number of paper sessions will be scheduled for each theme of the congress.  In a paper session, a presider/discussant introduces the speakers, who then present an abbreviated version of their papers. Generally, each paper will be allotted 10 minutes for presentation, followed by 5 minutes of questions, critique, and/or discussion. The discussant and audience will use the remaining time for additional discussion, general review, and suggestions for further research.

Round Tables
In discussion based round table sessions, each presenter is assigned a table or a circular arrangement of chairs where interested persons may gather for discussion with the presenter about his or her topic. The presenter makes a short, informal presentation followed by discussion that he or she controls. There may be several papers assigned to one room resulting in concurrent discussions throughout the room. A presider/discussant may be assigned; if so, the presider will introduce the presenters, explain the format of the session, and give a 5-minute warning of the session ending time.

Interactive Poster Sessions
Eight to ten posters will be assigned to one room organized according to a theme. Presenters must set up their displays prior to the start of the session and then promptly remove them at the end of the session. Each presenter will have 2-3 minutes to present a brief overview of his or her research at the start of the session. At the conclusion of the brief presentations, audience members will have approximately 45 minutes to circulate throughout the room to view the posters and interact with the presenters. At the conclusion of this time, the audience members will return to their seats for a large group discussion facilitated by the session presider or discussant (15 mins).

Examples of WEEC Abstracts

Organic Waste Diversion in Metro Vancouver’s Food Industry
Alida Kusch
Associate, Dillon Consulting Limited, Canada

The purpose of this project was to discover the needs of Metro Vancouver’s food services industry in meeting Metro Vancouver’s proposed 2015 ban on organics and its target of 70% waste diversion from landfills. An assumption tested by the research was that many restaurants, grocery stores and food producers might not know about Metro Vancouver’s 2015 objectives or have the tools and resources necessary to comply with them. Through one-on-one interviews and a survey involving representative restaurant, grocery store and food producer owners/managers, the project developed an understanding of the education and communication resources and approaches needed to assist the food industry within Metro Vancouver in meeting the 2015 waste diversion objectives.

Low Impact Development: Citizen Chronicles from the Urban Underground
Marc Joseph Yamaguchi
Royal Roads University, Canada

The City of Toronto’s Official Plan, the Province of Ontario’s Cap and Trade policy, and the federal government’s proposed Carbon Tax indicate that there is the political will to address the local effects of climate change. Since 2015, I have piloted a rain garden initiative in my home riding of East York, Ontario in the hopes that it may be replicated across Toronto. The Case Study I am proposing encompasses approximately two years of mostly pro bono work in the construction and maintenance of rain gardens. Rain gardens are intended to retain storm water runoff from urban lots while improving soil conditions, providing habitat for pollinators, and generally enhancing local aesthetics. Much of the previous work on this approach has gone undocumented, so the opportunity to assess the efficacy of this storm water intervention is timely. The research study proposed here will document the experiences of the homeowners who agreed to install the gardens on their front lots and will also explore any changes perceived by the participants in regard to their knowledge and attitudes concerning personal and local actions to mitigate climate change effects and support sustainability.

Auto repair shops’ perspectives on storm drain protection
Liz Freyman
BC Ministry of Environment, Canada

Stream health in urban landscapes is affected by non-point sources of pollution from a range of land uses including commercial activities that may release pollutants. Significant improvements in water quality will require efforts to control contaminants at their sources from theses various activities. Automotive repair businesses are seen as a sector that handles large volumes of products that can be washed into storm drains. The purpose of the study was to learn this sector’s needs in adopting storm drain best management practices. Semi-structured in-person interviews were conducted with business owners to identify barriers, challenges and opportunities to adopting storm drain best management practices. The results show that auto repair businesses were generally receptive to improving practices but indicate that certain barriers need to be addressed in order to have more widespread acceptance and adoption. The participants made design recommendations to improve the effectiveness of an education and outreach program for their industry.


For any inquiries regarding the abstract submission process, please contact WEEC2017 at