This is the time for a Great Reset. Let’s use it to change the way we see ourselves and our place on Earth. The conservationist Aldo Leopold once wrote that “one of the penalties of an ecological education is that one lives alone in a world of wounds. Much of the damage inflicted on land is quite invisible to laymen.” But if everyone has an ecological education, we will not live alone, and it will not be a world of wounds.George Monbiot, ‘Coronavirus shows us it’s time to rethink everything. Let’s start with education’, The Guardian, 12 May 2020
I was thinking that I would be writing this post to attract more participants to signup for my 2nd 6-week Haumea Online pilot course ‘Essential Ecoliteracy for Creatives and Art Professionals’. I am trying to make an accessible and inspiring online course on key ecological knowledge, eco-philosophy, eco-ethics for people working across the creative sector.
Instead, before I knew it, the 2nd pilot has been booked-out from people on my waiting-list in just a couple of days. I’m delighted of course, but I do wonder if creatives, like George Monbiot (above) are sensing that eco-learning is an important and urgent topic that is not been adequately addressed in the arts.
My 6-week ‘Essential Ecoliteracy’ is still a pilot course. I’m learning a lot about how to best develop a great self-paced and collective learning experience. I started with multi-media pre-recorded videos for self-paced learning in each week’s module on what I think are essential topics to prepare creatives to work in this area (see the course details here). This meant filming myself delivering the material – my broadband is a bit limited due to the pressure on the local Internet – so my voice was a bit out of sync, but the participants were enthusiastic nevertheless.
The online course weekly group meetings were a bit nerve-wracking at first (not helped with our young dog who heard one of the others participants dog’s barking on Zoom). But over the weeks, I began to really cherish these group sharing times; and the group felt it too (you can read what they say about the course here).
My co-host for the live meetings, an experienced educator and philosopher Dr Nikos Patedakis (beaming in from California), helped enormously and we offered an extra half hour to those who wanted to go deeper with the material. Getting used to recording Zoom sessions I found myself naturally reaching out to experienced ecoart workers for interviews too. I’m pretty introverted, so I was staggered that I found I was connecting with my peers in this way. It was all, despite some technical hiccups, so rewarding.
I will be repeating this ‘Essential Ecoliteracy course’ again in September, so please contact me if you want to be put on the waiting list.
Nikos and I are also preparing a complementary new course, working title ‘Creativity as a Practice of Love’ too. Over some weeks, this course will explore why philosophy has much to guide creative practice in these urgent times and we will be hosting online audience critique exercises.
I haven’t managed all this on my own; my husband Martin has been a real trouper, managing the tech-side of the Zoom meetings and our wilful young dog Willow; Nikos is mentoring me with all manner of eco-minded philosophy and teaching ideas, and I have the best art-tech business strategist, Mary Carty guiding me as well. Art researcher Dr Laura Donkers is reviewing this pilot course at a distance in Aotearoa New Zealand – her insights I really value. Leading Irish online eco-print textile artist and teacher, Nicola Brown, has also been so enthusiastic for many years that I explore sharing my knowledge in this new way. And the generous feedback from my first participants was so valuable too. Thanks everyone!
I also want to thank my long-standing PhD supervisor, my MA tutor in virtual realities and under-grad tutor in aesthetics, Dr Paul O’Brien (formerly of the National College of Art & Design in Dublin) who really supported this online learning idea way back in 2016 when I submitted my PhD. He agreed, there did seem potential to use online learning to get ecoliteracy out quickly to the art and creative sectors. I’m so glad I’ve followed this through and I must give a special mention to the magnificent Prof Tara Brabazon in Australia, who inspires all things for advances in doctoral and digital education. “Boom! Lets do this!” is what she says! Yes, the Haumea Online Ecoversity is here at last!
Hello! Kia Ora! My name is Cathy Fitzgerald, and I’m an Irish-based New Zealander living in rural Ireland these past 20 years.
“I’m passionate about bringing ecoliteracy to the art sector. Creatives, if informed with basic ecoliteracy (ecological knowledge), can ‘translate’ the science relevant to their diverse urban and rural communities and audiences. Research confirms ecoliterate art professionals, with their skills in inclusivity and creativity, will have a critical leadership role to inspire diverse communities across the world, to envision the more beautiful, just and better world we know is possible.
And supporting ecoliteracy in the arts is an urgent task, given that the pandemic is seen as another symptom of the wider and accelerating ecological emergency.
About Haumea Ecoliteracy Essentials On-Line Course Development
During February 2019, I was awarded a Carlow Local Enterprise Feasibility Study Award to explore online course development with support from the Carlow Local Enterprise Office and business mentor Bernie Tracey. The Feasibility Study Award allowed me mentorship with the Canadian Online Course Builders Laboratory by MIRASEE and award-winning Irish art-business-tech mentor Mary Carty. I delivered a live ecoliteracy workshop in November 2019, with the support of the Carlow Arts Office and the course programme has been greatly enriched with the knowledge and experience of Dr Nikos Patedakis and Veronica Larsson. Thank you all!