AdMU and UP co-host AUN-EEC Conference 2022 on ecological education
16 Jan 2023
The ASEAN University Network on Ecological Education and Culture (AUN-EEC) organized its annual conference with the theme “Ecological Education and Culture: Looking Back, Looking Forward” last 14-15 September 2022 via Zoom. While AUN-EEC is being hosted by the Ateneo Institute of Sustainability (AIS), which has been organizing the conference since 2020, for the first time, AUN-EEC Conference 2022 was jointly organized by the Ateneo de Manila and the University of the Philippines Diliman.
The AUN-EEC Conference has been aspiring to promote the practice of sustainable and environmentally responsible behavior in the Southeast Asian region through panel discussions, workshops, and paper presentations. As the world eases into what appears to be the tail-end of the pandemic, the 2022 conference particularly aims to facilitate discussions on the role of ecological education and culture as we face global challenges and move toward a “new normal”.
Day 1 focused on the “looking back” aspect of the theme, which alludes to the recollection of sustainable practices from our historical roots, as well as the past two years of the pandemic. The first day featured a keynote lecture by Dr. Jeanette Yasol-Naval (UP Diliman) entitled “Looking Back: Sustainable Indigenous Beliefs and Practices”. Dr. Yasol-Naval discussed the role of traditional beliefs and folklores. such as tikbalang and kapre, in cultivating an ecological conscience.
The first day of the conference also featured two panel discussions with different speakers addressing a given topic using varying lenses. The "Sustainable Practices: Tapping into our History" panel brought to light varied historical and anthropological evidence which indicate that beliefs, practices, and traditions promoting environmental protection are deeply rooted in the culture of early ancestors throughout the ASEAN region. Meanwhile, the panel entitled "Looking Back at University Best Practices - Sustainability during the time of COVID-19" highlighted the similarities and differences in the experiences on ecological education of the numerous higher education institutions from Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand amid the distant learning set-up during the pandemic.
Meanwhile, the second day of the conference primarily featured discussions on “looking forward” or leveraging technology and youth trends in mainstreaming ecological education and culture and in mitigating climate change in what appears to be the tailend of the pandemic. In their plenary talk entitled “Social Media and Ecological Education”, Mr. Andrew Freiband (Artists Literacies Institute) and Prof. Adriene Jenik (Arizona State University) talked about how their Turn It Around Project reimagines environmental activism among the youth through arts and writing.
Meanwhile, the plenary talk by Prof. Michael Tan (UP Diliman) entitled “Promoting Ecological Education Among the Youth”emphasized the necessity of niche curricular design which integrates ecological education in basic and higher education. Following the keynote lectures was a panel discussion entitled "Strategies Toward More Sustainable Behavior in the Context of the New Normal" which tackled the methods that have been found to be effective in spreading awareness of sustainability initiatives in the classroom and in communities.
While the morning plenary sessions were insightful, the afternoon parallel sessions were devoted for collaborative learning among participants through the workshops and the research paper presentations. The “My Climate Risk” workshop by Dr. Laurice Jamero (Manila Observatory) and Mr. Rex Ronter Ruiz (UP Systeam) contextualized the reality of the climate crisis which demands for more sustainable behavior. Participants offered suggestions on how to prevent global temperatures from rising by more than 1.5 degrees Celsius. Meanwhile, the “Turn It Around Project'' workshop by Ms. Saiarchana Darira guided the participants in the process of crafting TIA cards.
Additionally, 18 accepted research papers were presented in parallel sessions, namely “Best Practices in Ecological Education and Culture”, “Promoting Ecological Education Among the Youth”, and “Intersectionality of Ecological Education and Ecospirituality”. Two papers were notably presented by Ateneo Senior High School students and were completed as part of their requirements in their Practical Research class.
AUN-EEC was founded with the vision of forming a generation of Southeast Asians who will have the mindset and competencies to conserve and preserve the environment, even as they face the challenges of social change and economic growth. On its third iteration, AUN-EEC Conference gathered numerous educators, youth leaders, and environment enthusiasts from the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Thailand, Vietnam, Canada, Nigeria, India, Myanmar, Sweden, and Pakistan.
AUN-EEC Conference 2022 would not have been successful without the leadership of conference co-chairs Dr. Ma. Assunta Cuyegkeng (AUN-EEC Executive Director; Department of Educational Leadership and Management) and Dr. Ma. Theresa Payongayong (UP Diliman Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs), and conference secretariat: Dr. Emmanuel Delocado (Bio, AIS), Ms. Jean Jardeleza Mijares (ES, AIS), Mr. Christopher Castillo (OADSA), Mr. Vicson Visperas (AIS), and Mr. Joaquin Campos (AIS). The plenary sessions were moderated by Dr. Nikki Carsi Cruz (IS Dept).