The water reckoning: an international project using dramatic engagement, digital tools and education for sustainability

Year: 2013

Author: Davis, Susan, Ambrosetti, Angelina

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Over the last decade there has been an increased focus internationally and nationally on the importance of sustainability education across all sectors of education. Key education policies in Australia, such as the Melbourne Declaration, identify the importance of educating our children for the challenges of the future, along with being confident and creative problem solvers who are ready to deal with complex issues such as climate change and sustainability. Thus the new Australian curriculum, currently being implemented, sees sustainability embedded as a cross-curricular priority. In the past, Education for Sustainability (EfS) has not been prominent in curriculum and planning tools in Australian schools, therefore the teaching and learning components of many sustainability education programs have often been based on fairly traditional models of delivery. However there is research evidence to show that active engagement with the environment and environmental issues through arts-based programs can build knowledge and commitment to place and provide the means for individuals and communities to take action.  In particular, engaging learners in dramatic processes provides affordance for individuals to ‘work it out in order to arrive at their own meaning’, thus coming to their own conclusions and actions. Within the increased range of digital tools now available in schools, there are significant opportunities to combine their use with forms of experiential learning to heighten engagement, mediate experience and promote a range of expressive forms of learning.  The Water Reckoning is an international project that used dramatic engagement and digital tools to explore the issue of water sustainability.  Project sites included Australia (Queensland and New South Wales), Greece, Singapore and Seattle, all of which have had recent man made and natural disasters involving water.  This paper reports on the outcomes of the Queensland project, the learnings derived from the dramatic process and the meanings made by the learners involved. The paper also draws comparisons with the other project sites and reports on the differences in conclusions.