Photo by: Kaylyn Kwasnecha

UVic Clayoquot Sound Field Semester

As a non-profit organization, Raincoast Education Society (RES) has largely focused on youth outdoor education in local schools and summer camps. In more recent years, we have also started offering adult education opportunities including guided walks, the Tofino Ambassador Program, Speaker Series, and field-based courses with the Raincoast Institute, such as the recent Mushrooms of the West Coast. In an attempt to meet the growing demand of accredited courses, we have partnered with the University of Victoria (UVic) to offer higher education programs. In May 2017, RES and UVic successfully co-coordinated a two-course pilot field program working with many local groups. We are now pleased to present the Clayoquot Sound Field Semester with UVic Department of Geography and RES. This intensive semester-long field school runs from January to April 2018 and consists of six upper-level Geography courses including: Field Studies in Coastal and Marine Resources, Coastal Planning, Coastal Meteorology, Disaster Management and Community Resilience, Advanced Landscape Ecology, and Wildlife Conservation.

UVic is finding new ways of teaching to engage students with environments rich in natural and cultural diversity.  Although the Department of Geography has a long tradition of field schools, UVic is expanding the field program to be more immersive, allowing students to experience and experiment in a living ecosystem and community ‘laboratory’. Recognizing this privilege, there is a responsibility to practice place-based, community-engaged learning. The vision is a semester-long sequence of field courses that weave together a deeper understanding of environmental processes, links between community livelihoods and natural resources, and the role of cultural values related to human-environment interactions.

One of the goals is to evaluate issues from a wide diversity of perspectives all bound by the context of environmental conservation and sustainability.  Through a series of courses from a variety of physical processes, economic perspectives and social/cultural lenses, students will engage with local partners to help research and identify potential solutions and opportunities. Our envisioned community-based conservation course, taught by Dan Harrison of RES, will focus on work-study projects that benefit local organizations. Our hope is to cultivate and nurture long-term relationships with these partners to ensure equitable, authentic and productive partnerships.  

There is a sacred responsibility to be stewards of this very special and wondrous place. With an innovative interdisciplinary approach, extraordinary instructors and local Knowledge Holders will teach and inspire students from diverse backgrounds. Tomorrow’s scholars and practitioners of sustainability and community-engagement will benefit from a fully immersed unique learning opportunity in a world-class setting. Students will emerge with the knowledge, tools and perspective about ecosystems and people to make significant contributions to both.

RES and UVic would like to recognize and thank the Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations for hosting the Field School on unceded traditional territory of Tla-o-qui-aht, Ahousaht, Hesquiaht, and Ucluelet First Nations, the first peoples of the lands and waters. One student from the Indigenous Nations will be encouraged to participate and awarded a scholarship waiving the fees of the Field School. We would like to thank all of our community partners and supporters since the conception of this program, including the Clayoquot Biosphere Trust and the Tofino Botanical Gardens and Ecolodge.