Submit a Manuscript to the Journal
The Journal of Environmental Education
For a Special Issue on
Digital Technologies and Environmental Education
01 November 2021
01 May 2022
Digital Technologies and Environmental Education
The influence of digital technologies on environmental education (EE) research and practice has yet to be collectively explored, discussed, and debated. Despite the increased presence of digital technologies in EE and past efforts to introduce and invite critical perspectives, there is a persistent need for more fulsome consideration. This special issue (SI) of the Journal of Environmental Education (JEE) will foster a discussion of this nature.
Digital technologies have proved indispensable, at times, amidst the arguably ubiquitous online crisis teaching contexts that have formed around the world in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. They have also allowed us to reimagine conferences and other gatherings in online formats that result in lower ecological impacts than those held in person. However, challenges related to inequitable access to technology on individual, regional, national, and global scales along with excessive strain on and associated burnout of educators, learners, and parents—often with critical gender subtexts and implications—have illuminated the potential dangers of over-reliance upon digital platforms in efforts to maintain the status quo. In response, some have turned away from the digital world in varying degrees to creatively reconsider local and outdoor approaches to pedagogy and daily living.
Digital technologies have emerged more generally in EE through, for example, the availability of software such as the leafsnap plant identification app (https://plantidentifier.info) and simulacra in the form of virtual hiking programs (e.g., https://thegreattrail.ca/parks-canada-virtual/). Digital technologies may also serve as powerful tools to collect, monitor, and share important ecological data and trends with students and the broader public through citizen science programs or similar. Such technologies may understandably appeal to some educators and learners who are reticent to leave the confines of a classroom for a variety of possible reasons ranging from lack of experience, knowledge, funds, or accessibility, to institutional risk management concerns. However, we must vigorously question what is lost when locally relevant ecological literacy and immersive experiential learning are replaced by virtual alternatives.
Digital technologies have also been adopted in the deeper interests of environmental justice. For example, land and environmental justice advocates and activists have employed digital cartography to facilitate and share counter- and communocentric mapping efforts that challenge colonial and corporate epistemologies, boundaries, and practices. Contemporary environmental activists also routinely utilize digital technologies and social media platforms to organize initiatives and share photos, videos, and other information that may counter or augment perspectives presented by mainstream media, government, or corporate interests. Environmental educators, scholars, practitioners, artists, and activists are also increasingly engaging with and bridging digital and non-digital traditions to create visual artefacts that represent, contest, and disrupt socioenvironmental challenges, injustices, and hierarchies.
While acknowledging the achievements and potential of such innovations we must continue to critically consider important caveats regarding both the “promise and perils” of digital technologies for EE. Although extensive consideration of digital technologies in EE research is relatively scarce, scholarship in related disciplines such as environmental studies, environmental humanities, environmental communication, and critical science education has provided important critiques of the socioecological impacts of digitalization that we may draw upon to further inform such discussions.
Given the dynamics and tensions described above, we invite submissions to this special issue of the JEE from supporters, critics, and theorists of digital technology in EE.
Possible themes include, among others:
- Digital technologies and experiential EE
- Digital/virtual EE as simulacra
- Digital technology, citizen science, and EE
- Digital communication, environmental activism, and EE
- Digital technology, environmental communication, and EE
- Digital EE and accessibility
- Digital colonialism and environmental justice
- EE and the (hidden) socioecological impacts of digital technology
- Critical gender perspectives on digitalization in EE
- Digital, counter-, and communocentric mapping and EE
- Digital visualization technologies in EE
- More-than-human interaction with and agency related to digital technologies and EE
- Alternatives to/push back against digital technologies in EE
These themes also relate to important questions germane to the present and future of environmental education practice and research that have been raised or alluded to in other recent JEE SIs such as:
- How will digital exclusion and inclusion affect EE and EER in the coming years? What are we (quickly) learning about the possibilities and limitations of online, remote teaching, and how does it help us (re)think contemporary (digital?) EE?
- How can the use of digital technologies in EE and EER lead to different (richer, poorer, complementary) understandings of the environment (in its diverse permutations) compared with firsthand experiences?
- Regarding privilege and access to nature–who holds it; what defines it; when, where and how is it (re)enforced? How is technology (and the access to it) used to enact and ratify the privilege of access to nature? And how is technology being used to cope with the lack of access to nature?
- To what extent is EE (research) praxical, or just academic performative abstract theoretical textualism?
- What are some of the fundamental (preferably, “simple”) questions for a “practical theory” of environmental/ecological justice?
- How well do we, as a global community, practice environmental laws and environmental politics in responding to the question of "what is in it for Nature?"
- Are collective actions that respond to environmental issues (aesthetically-ethically-politically) aligned with the principles of justice historically claimed within social movements, and of ecological justice historically claimed within the environmental movement?
- What research evidence do we have, and where can it be found (in different geo-epistemologies), that can be used to defend experiential learning and education within interdisciplinary framings of EE (or outdoor education, health education, sustainability education, etc ...)?
- Do we have empirically based examples of more-than-human agency altering environmental education and research? Are there potential ecopedagogical drives in social change brought forth by more-than-human agencies?
Anticipated Timeline & Review Process
This SI will follow an assemblage methodology that involves ongoing conversation between the editor(s) and authors, and amongst the authors themselves as manuscripts emerge and develop. For further information and insight, please see previous JEE special issues.
- Abstract submissions (500 words plus references) via email to the Digital Technologies & EE SI Editor ([email protected]): November 1st, 2021
- Editorial abstract review and preliminary responses to authors: November – December 2021
- Submission of first full draft of manuscripts (6000 words each including references, tables, and any additional information): May 1st, 2022
- Editorial vetting; blind peer review: May – June 2022
- Reviews returned to authors: July 2022
- Revised draft submission: Mid-September, 2022
- Final editorial vetting; manuscripts shared amongst authors for cross-referencing and assemblage; final revisions: September – October 2022
- Final manuscript submission: Early November, 2022
- Final editorial processes—copyediting and proofing: November, 2022 – Winter 2023
- SI publication: Spring 2023
Greg Lowan-Trudeau (Digital Technologies Special Issue Editor): [email protected];
Cae Rodrigues (Editor, Special Issues): [email protected];
or Alberto Arenas (Editor-in-Chief): [email protected]
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