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Drama and Environment: Joining Forces to Engage Children and Young People in Environmental Education

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  10 March 2014

David J. Curtis*
Affiliation:
Institute of Rural Futures, University of New England, Armidale, New South Wales, Australia
Mark Howden
Affiliation:
CSIRO Climate Adaptation Flagship, Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, Australia
Fran Curtis
Affiliation:
Wollongong High School for the Performing Arts, Fairy Meadow, New South Wales, Australia
Ian McColm
Affiliation:
Eaton Gorge Theatre Company, Thirroul, New South Wales, Australia
Juliet Scrine
Affiliation:
Eaton Gorge Theatre Company, Thirroul, New South Wales, Australia
Thor Blomfield
Affiliation:
Leapfish, Earlwood, New South Wales, Australia
Ian Reeve
Affiliation:
Institute of Rural Futures, University of New England, Armidale, New South Wales, Australia
Tara Ryan
Affiliation:
Evergreen Theatre, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
*
Address for correspondence: David Curtis, Institute of Rural Futures, University of New England, Armidale NSW 2351, Australia. Email: irf@une.edu.au

Abstract

Engaging and exciting students about the environment remains a challenge in contemporary society, even while objective measures show the rapid state of the world's environment declining. To illuminate the integration of drama and environmental education as a means of engaging students in environmental issues, the work of performance companies Evergreen Theatre, Leapfish and Eaton Gorge Theatre Company, the ecological oratorio Plague and the Moonflower, and a school-based trial of play-building were examined through survey data and participant observations. These case studies employed drama in different ways — theatre-in-education, play-building, and large-scale performance event. The four case studies provide quantitative and qualitative evidence for drama-based activities leading to an improvement in knowledge about the environment and understandings about the consequences of one's actions. In observing and participating in these case studies, we reflect that drama is a means of synthesising and presenting scientific research in ways that are creative and multi-layered, and which excite students, helping maintain their attention and facilitating their engagement.

Type
Feature Articles
Copyright
Copyright © The Authors 2014 

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