Relationality and resilience: Environmental education in a time of pandemic and climate crisis

E. V. Casas, M. M. Pormon, J. J. Manus, R. P. Lejano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this article, we take up the overlapping nature of crises, and reflect on the knowledge we have gained vis-a-vis learning in a time of pandemic. COVID-19 and climate change have both, in overlapping ways, changed our understanding of what constitutes just and empowering approaches to crisis risk communication. In both areas of concern, the public has had to appropriate and interpret technical knowledge, and apply the same to risk situations. At times, whether it concerns the efficacy of masks for preventing COVID-19, or evacuating ahead of an impending tropical cyclone, the public has had to become their own local experts. Our work is guided by the ethic of relationality, which eschews objectification of the public, instead aiming for their full inclusion as partners in risk reduction. The challenge is to re-orient the role of the public from a passive recipient of expert knowledge to an active agent capable of acquiring, translating, and acting upon risk information. One interesting strategy has been to craft empowerment workshops where community members gain competencies in acquiring risk knowledge and translating the same into narrative forms that they can, in turn, share with others. This was translated into a lesson plan for elementary students in Tacloban, Philippines, on the risks of storm surge. We also describe how the same lesson was repurposed for COVID-19 risk communication. The case studies speak to an emerging form of environmental education that is relevant to crises of the Anthropocene.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)314-324
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Environmental Education
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2021


  • COVID-19
  • Environmental education
  • climate change
  • relationality
  • risk communication

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • General Environmental Science


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