The term social responsibility has many interpretations depending upon the perspective of the person or group of people that are considering the concept.  In my view, social responsibility related education involves educating students to become more self-aware of personal identity and how that sense of personal identity currently connects to differing communities in responsible and positive ways.  Also, educating students to how that growing awareness of self and communities can be developed in responsible and positive ways.

Engaging students in various projects to provide service to community is an idea that is sometimes questioned.  Are the students merely complying with authority in this type of engagement?  Are the students meaningfully engaging and making the personal connection to the situation with possibly transformative results?  Probably for each student, the answer will be somewhere on a spectrum between the two questions.  I believe from my experiences this year, that it would be more likely that if the students have a choice and voice in the type of activities that provide service to communities in which they become involved, and also are well educated as to the implications of the type of service and the related knowledge about scientific and social impacts, the students will make more meaningful and potentially transformative connections to the socially responsible activities in which they engage.

Our contributions to others this year have been international, local and school based.  We started this year by participating in the TD Great Canadian Shoreline Clean-up as part of an international effort to not only clean-up shorelines, but also to contribute meaningful data on the sources of shoreline pollution.  We cleaned up the shoreline at Vanier Park, and also collected data on the categories of the pollutants that we collected.  Then we contributed our data to the International Coastal Clean-Up to be compiled with worldwide statistics on marine pollutants to help initiate action to stop the sources of shoreline pollution.  To see images from the clean up, link to Vanier Park Clean-up and Data Collection and for learning connections, return to field trips.


In February of this year, we initiated water quality testing of our school's drinking water in order to determine safety for our school community.  We partnered with a team of UBC graduate and undergraduate science students to learn about the nature of water quality testing, and further initiated and completed a full testing of the water quality at our school.  We then compiled a complete scientific report with recommendations for safe water practices, which we presented to the school community at an assembly and then to Mr. Chris Kelly as representative of the Vancouver School Board.  The students then did mini in class presentations in each division on safe water practices and made signage for all water fountains.  For images of the project, link to Water Quality Testing Images and for the full report and signage templates, link to Water Quality Report and Signage Templates.


In May and June we participated in the Youth Estuary Stewardship Program with the Northwest Wildlife Preservation Society.  The students engaged in interactive and discussion based learning organized in class for 4 half day sessions.  After a solid understanding was developed, the students went in the field to study the fragile estuary ecosystem through performing a full study of the estuary at London's Landing in Steveston.  This data was used as a part of an ongoing monitoring of the London's Landing site being monitored by the NWP Society.  For images of the London's Landing study, link to London's Landing estuary studyThe students also participated in a woody debris clean up at the estuary at Purfleet Point on Annacis Island.   On an unusually rainy, cold day in June, we managed to collect 2.24 tons of woody debris to enable the development of plant life and encourage wildlife development in the area.  The students as a cooperative team hooked up full sized logs and pulled these logs up an embankment to a collection bin.  They also worked down in the mud to remove armloads of woody debris, and passed it up a chain of students to a collection bin.  It was a remarkable day.  For images of the woody debris clean up, link to Woody Debris Clean up - Purfleet Pt.  NWPS came back to the classroom for two further half day visits to allow opportunity to discuss the learning, the hands-on experience and the students' perception of nature of their own participation.

This week I will invite students to read and contribute to this account.  The objective will be to have the students discuss personal connections and meanings (if any) that they derived from the experiences  of contributing to socially responsible initiatives.  The student writing will be saved in the gallery Student Reflections on Social Responsibility.