THE LANGUOROUS DOG DAYS of summer are upon me as I write this editorial. Tonight, Sirius, the canine star, will light up the sky. But I can’t ignore the slightly burnt aroma of autumn that already tinges the still afternoon air.
Though I graduated from university in the 1980s, September continues to herald a return to school. So it will seem fitting when the new flock of students floods the hall outside our office on the University of Waterloo campus. Soon the lively voices of energetic students will break my peace. The small coffee shop that sells fair-trade brands will reopen, and a new batch of bright-eyed interns and volunteers will slide through our doors brimming with sparkling enthusiasm.
This autumn, environmental programs across the country will overflow with students intent on saving the world. Some will focus on the sciences, some the social sciences, some both. Some will become highly sought-after hydrogeologists. Others will take up an Earth-saving cause with one of the organizations that has helped concern about the planet top public opinion polls. Others will enter politics. Many will take part in on-campus activities. They’ll encourage friends to avoid paper cups, eat local foods and get involved.
In this issue of Alternatives, we bring you a directory of environmental programs at 40 Canadian universities. It will give high school and university students, their parents, guidance counsellors and future employers a flavour of what these schools have to offer. While we’ve published directories in past years, this quirky new version is like none you’ve seen before. Maclean’s it ain’t.
You can also read about Alison Neilson and a Wannabe-Trickster, her spirited coyote friend, as they struggle to make environmental teaching equitable and inclusive. Transdisciplinary teams, recommends Linda Carson, are an effective way to deal with complex environmental issues, and I’ve taken a look at the hot lineup of jobs that await graduates. Finally, we’ve rounded out the mix with an excerpt from Design on the Edge, a new book by David Orr, North America’s pre-eminent expert on environmental education.
Interspersed between university descriptions and insightful articles, are interviews with some of Canada’s brightest environmentalists. From Justin Trudeau to the Sierra Youth Coalition’s Anjali Helferty, we bring you their fresh thoughts on the relationship between education and environmental salvation.
We believe an environmental education contributes to our collective effort to pass on a healthy planet to future generations. But as reflected in our directory, school curriculum is only part of an education. Real actions and collaborative efforts by students, faculty and the public are necessary too.
People often say that learning is a lifelong experience. My first year spent as the editor of Alternatives shored up this idea. Not only is there an unending lineup of fascinating topics to learn about and amazing people to learn from, few things are as pleasurable as studying them.
A special thanks to Erin Elliott, our assistant editor, and Tegan Renner, an intern extraordinaire, for their Earth-saving effort on this issue.
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