Community arts and environmental education research in Seychelles

Seychelles is well known for its successful and ongoing efforts to promote biodiversity conservation and ecosystem restoration. However, as a small island state, Seychelles is particularly vulnerable to the impacts of growing environmental problems such as climate change, waste, water supply, food security, invasive species, rising energy prices, etc. A group of Seychellois primary and secondary teachers have formed a participatory action research group to investigate how school environmental education programs can respond more effectively to these socio-ecological problems and help communities move towards more environmentally sustainable ways of living. This presentation focuses on one particular intervention undertaken by the research group: a community arts project involving teachers, artists and children in the development of artwork for the exterior of public buses that promotes sustainable living. The objectives of this project were to engage citizens from diverse backgrounds (students, teachers, artists, community members) in a collaborative and creative exploration of what sustainable living means in the Kreol cultural context of Seychelles, to develop and install the designs on buses, and to gather information to evaluate the impact of the arts-based process and final products on project participants and the public. The bus artwork will be presented along with the children and adult participantsí perceptions about the impact of the project, and what the research group has learned about how collaborative arts-based methods can enrich environmental education research.