Scholar-practitioners Gather to Study Social and Ecological Systems

July 12, 2019
Alice MacGillivray

Pictured left to right: Mellanie Cunningham, WA, Dave Bodaly, Snuneymuxw elder-in-training, Kimberley Lafferty, WA, Sandy Chen, Shanghai, Trevor Maber, SK (RRU Associate Faculty), Leslie Hilton, CO

Over 20 people recently gathered on Gabriola Island to learn about systems, interrelationships, and social and ecological justice. Associate faculty member Alice MacGillivray, who teaches in the third MEM (Masters in Environment and Management) residency—and lives on the Island—designed and organized the schedule. Several other Royal Roads community members from three schools played roles as well.

Participants were mostly doctoral students, faculty, and alumni from a not for profit university in the U.S.: Fielding Graduate University.  They travelled to Gabriola from five countries on three continents.  The event was designed to expose them to many different systems and local residents, and for them to make sense of the experiences in self-directed assignments.

There were dozens of experiences including time with a Snuneymuxw Elder-in-Training David Bodaly exploring the history, treaty processes, petroglyphs, forests, and cedar weaving

  • a tour of the island’s most energy-efficient home
  • exposure to several collaborative governance models
  • successes demonstrating islands as incubators of innovation (for example, a medical clinic built without any government funding)

The group worked to give back to the community in several ways, including pro-bono consulting and an almost impromptu theatre presentation to thank the community.Feedback has been excellent. Sometimes we think of education with a pitcher-and-empty-vessel metaphor; in this case, it was more like a healthy, dynamic ecosystem.