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30 August 2021
Humour and Environmental Education
Environmental educators may have a reputation for engaging in doom-and-gloom discourse (Kelsey & Armstrong, 2012) and being “killjoys” who challenge the status quo (Verlie & CCR 15, 2018), yet from our personal experience, we know many also value humour and some use it in their teaching. While environmental education scholars are increasingly attending to the emotional and affective dimensions of our work, including discussing grief, loss, solastalgia, anxiety, despair, hope, love, care, and empathy (see Russell & Oakley, 2016), humour has received minimal attention in the field. We found one paper discussing humour as a trigger for emotional engagement in outdoor education (Hoad et al., 2018) as well as brief mentions of humour in descriptions of pedagogical practices (Chandler et al., 2020; McKenzie et al., 2010; Publicover et al., 2018; Russell, 2019) and in discussions of Indigenous approaches to environmental education (Cole, 2012; Korteweg et al., 2010; Lowan-Trudeau, 2019).
Just beyond our borders, however, there has been growing attention to humour. There has been a recent flurry of scholarly writing on the uses of humour in climate change communication (e.g., Anderson & Becker, 2018; Boykoff & Osnes, 2019; Chandler et al., 2020; Kaltenbacher & Drews, 2020; Osnes et al., 2019; Skurka et al., 2019), some of which has been translated into practical ideas for educators or pitched to public audiences (e.g., Boykoff, 2019; Inside the Greenhouse, 2020). There also has been work on humour in other educational fields that grapple with thorny issues, such as social justice education, Indigenous education, Holocaust education, and activist education (e.g., Chattoo & Feldman, 2020; Hinzo & Clark, 2019; Leddy, 2018; Mayo, 2008; Mora et al., 2015; Rossing, 2016; Roy, 2007; Sørensen, 2016; Zemblyas, 2018). Other educational scholars have explored humour through philosophical inquiries or investigations of the pedagogical potential and pitfalls of using humour (e.g., Banas et al., 2011; Garner, 2006; Gordon & Mayo, 2014; Jones & McGloin, 2016; Morreall, 2014; Sambrani et al., 2014).
We want to encourage research and scholarly conversations about the role of humour in environmental education, grounded in diverse learning environments, which is especially important given what is found funny is historically, culturally, and contextually specific. A number of questions come to mind that we think would be worth investigating. For example, why, when, and how do environmental educators choose to use humour pedagogically? How might humourous environmental education play in different cultural or multicultural contexts? What sorts of lessons might be learned from comedians whose work explicitly tackles difficult topics such as racism, sexism, colonialism, and genocide? What comedic forms (e.g., stand-up, film, visual and performance art, comics, cartoons, advertising) might be particularly generative for environmental education research, theorizing and practice, and why? Are there ways that humour helps environmental educators deflect their difficult knowledge or the pressures resulting from the emotionally fraught labour in which they and their students engage? Although far from an exclusive list, these questions point to some of the possible directions this special issue could go.
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We seek proposals of up to 1,000 words (plus references) by March 15, 2021. Please email these directly to the guest editors (email addresses above). Proposals should crystallise the key arguments of the proposed paper, map out how the aims of the paper will be achieved, and indicate theoretical frame and sources of ideas/evidence. It is recommended that authors familiarize themselves with some of the scholarship cited in this CFP. Practitioners with less experience of academic writing are encouraged to contact the guest editors to discuss possibilities. Accepted proposals will be those deemed most likely to: make a significant addition to the literature; have a focus and content in line with the CFP; have a coherent research method/scholarly approach, arguments, and conclusions; and be understood by an international audience. Invitations to submit a full paper will be sent to selected authors by March 30, 2021.
Full manuscripts should be a maximum of 6,000 words excluding references and will be due on August 30, 2021. (Earlier submissions welcome!) Where pertinent to the content of their paper, authors are welcome to include visual representations suitable for print or provide supplemental online material (e.g., video, sound file) that EER publishes online via Figshare (see supplemental material and how to submit it with your article). Consult the aims and scope of the journal, guidelines for preparation of manuscripts, and submission instructions.
Final acceptance of an article is conditional upon peer review and the decision of the Guest Editors and Editor. We anticipate publishing the special issue in Summer 2022, with accepted articles published online in advance as ready.
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