Richard Kool

In some ways, I wish I had had more time to do research: I am very curious, interested in a broad range of topics and domains, and am willing to spend the time writing. However, I was hired to develop and run a graduate program and at the time of my hiring, research was not a part of the job.

Looking at my research output, however, it is easy to see that I am an intellectual omnivore… neither my professional life nor my predilection has led me to make a narrowly sustained and coherent set of research contributions. Keeping with the biological metaphor, I’m a flitterer, following my nose from one area of interest to another. I hope that my broad range of research interests, going from the sciences to the social sciences and humanities, is appropriate for someone trying to lead a transdisciplinary academic program. And while I haven’t published in the natural sciences for a long, long time (although I do have two letters to the editor in Nature), I have published in both social sciences and humanities domains during my time at RRU.

One theme that I detect in my research interests is in stumbling upon what Noel Gough calls ‘blind spots’. I was, for example, one of the first people to call upon environmental educators back in 2005, to look at the issues of hope and despair and fear of the future in the work we do, and was offered a number of very well-attended conference presentations and engaged in collaborations; now, this topic is a major interest in the field. The first time I presented this paper, it led to a very intense conversation in Quebec which resulted in the conference, How do we talk to youth about the future? hosted by the Fondation Monique Fitz-Beck and the Quebec Teachers Union (CEQ), in Montreal. I was invited to be the opening speaker and was the only Anglophone speaker in attendance at this gathering.

I noted, a few years later, that the profession had been ignoring the potential of speaking to and with communities of faith, both as targets of environmental education and communication activities, and as partners themselves offering educational programs congruent with their faith beliefs, and again was offered a series of conference presentations on this topic.

More recently, I have a book chapter coming out that looks at the fact that the environmental education community has been completely silent around the term ‘violence’ as it relates to the work we do and posited a framework for thinking about what I called environmental non-violence, environmental anti-violence and environmental contra-violence.

As an active member of the Jewish community of Victoria and a child of a Holocaust survivor, I have published articles and chapters contributing to scholarship and practice related to that part of my life. From a paper on a Jewish conception of caring for animals, to speaking to faith communities about the environment, to giving the keynote address to an invitational conference looking at Holocaust education at a time when the last survivors are dying, I have tried to bring the more personal aspects of my life into my scholarly world and contribute in that way. And it has been through both my work as an environmental educator and as a member of the Jewish community that I have twice been invited to Israel to work first with the Israel Society for Environmental Quality, and then more recently (2014), to participate in an invitational international workshop, The Batsheva de Rothschild Workshop on Initiatives in Science and Education for Improving the Kidron/Nar Basin with American, European, Israeli and Palestinian engineers, biologists, planners, educators and graduate students, where we examined community-building, education and ecological restoration in the contentious Kidron Valley/Wadi Nar, which runs south and east between West and East Jerusalem and into the Palestinian Territories to the Dead Sea.

Many, but not all of my papers can be found on Academia.