Community mapping and environmental, place-based education

This SSHRC-funded research addresses the relationship between environmental, place-based education and community mapping. I define community mapping as any attempt by a community to map themselves, involving: inclusion of the community members, transparency of the mapping process and decisions, and empowerment of the community through the mapping.

Through an extensive literature review of community mapping in the first year of my Master's study, I compiled a self-published "zine" or workbook outlining what community mapping is and how it has been used around the world. Through courses on and reviews of environmental and place-based theory and pedagogy, I began to explore their connections to community mapping.

In the summer of 2008 I interviewed key community mapping practitioners around Southwestern British Columbia to further explore these connections.

Practitioners all felt that community mapping and environmental place-based education are closely linked, yet they saw these links in different ways. Some felt community mapping was a scientific experience, others a community-forging experience, and still others a spiritual self/environment experience. Critical perspectives on past projects arose, and ideas and hopes for the future explored.

I will be conducting follow-up interviews in the spring of 2009 and synthesizing the data for the completion of my Master's degree in fall 2009. In addition to submitting to a peer-reviewed journal, I will be designing and leading workshops through the coming year to draw upon this practice and the opportunities provided by connecting the history and pedagogy of both community mapping and environmental place-based education.