How can we provide climate leadership and be a hub of ecological action and expertise in a way that serves our local communities?
A new think tank at Trent Durham GTA, Greening Trent, builds on the research of Dr. Susan Hillock and others ahead of an upcoming book, Greening Social Work Education: Caring Sustainability.
As more and more people turn their attention to the importance of ecological sustainability in their own areas of expertise, business, social and political leaders search for guidance and expertise on how to make their practices ‘greener’. Trent Durham GTA researchers are working to build critical dialogue and identify existing solutions and community issues that require more study. Climate action and leadership must bleed into all disciplines, and to do that, practical tools and methods must be built.
Dr. Susan Hillock, Professor of Social Work at Trent Durham, identifies that in her field, progress in adapting practice to ecological realities has been slow. Education in social work must adapt. “Many educational gaps remain, especially in terms of practical application about how to teach about sustainability, climate change, action, and environmental racism and injustice as well as how to incorporate climate literacy into social work education and practice,” says Professor Hillock, “We must prepare students in the helping professions for sustainable future practice in this area; and help social work educators gain confidence in transforming their teaching to meet these great needs.”
The group held an inaugural think tank luncheon event where challenges were discussed, connections were made and students connected with staff and faculty to find practical ways that ecological sustainability can be integrated into their learning both in and out of the classroom. “By having an academic environment with a focus on green learning, my classmates and I not only felt more connected to the material but also better to apply it on a larger scale: we’re able to take what we learn in class and take it out into the real world with us.” Said Bea Gravelle, a third-year social work student who helped organize the launch event, “If a green lens were brought to academia on a macro scale, we would be better able to prevent future damages to earth and repair those which have already occurred.”
Prof. Hillock is the editor of an upcoming book of research, Greening Social Work Education: Caring Sustainability, which aims to ‘green’ social work education by providing practical ways educators can integrate sustainability, green teaching methods and mobilize students towards climate action leadership. The volume also discusses issues using Indigenous, eco-feminist pedagogies and offers an interdisciplinary approach to sustainability in social work.
A broader campaign is in the works to provide leadership in ‘greening’ higher education, building community partnerships for climate leadership and highlighting Trent Durham as a hub for innovation and excellence in this area.
Learn more about the Bachelor of Social Work at Trent Durham.