Dr. Emily Root: Aligning Research, Teaching and Learning

Emily Norway  (3)In our continued celebrations of 40 more years of the Bachelor of Arts Community Studies (BACS) degree, this month we are getting to know Dr. Emily Root, the newest faculty member in the Community Studies program.

Emily has been with CBU since 2014.  Her teaching and research interests encompass decolonizing education and intercultural relationships; Indigenous education; outdoor experiential and environmental education; sustainability education; critical place-based education; self-directed learning; and Friluftsliv (Norwegian ‘free-air-life’).

Emily’s interest in Indigenous and decolonizing education sparked about 10 years ago when she was teaching at an alternative interdisciplinary, out-door based high school. Frequently leading students on outdoor trips, Emily says that the Indigenous Land they often travelled sparked her interest to learn more about Aboriginal history and perspectives. When she began her Master of Education degree, Emily began taking courses on decolonizing education, often engaging in small groups of Indigenous and non-Indigenous students and experiencing cultural traditions, thus beginning her own journey of “un-settling” and co-learning.

Emily says she has an interest in researching innovative approaches to education that foster curiosity and life-long learning; care for self, others, and the more-than-human world; and sustainable local and global communities. Although her research has been influenced by critical and appreciative discourses, she is deeply embedded within outdoor and environmental education, Indigenous Land education, critical pedagogy, and and teacher education.

Most of Emily’s current research focuses on education-for-reconciliation. “I strive to foster a decolonizing shift in Euro-western education systems and respectful Indigenous–non-Indigenous relationships in our communities. A unique aspect of my research is that I seek to understand settler-decolonizing processes and how non-Indigenous peoples learn with and from Indigenous peoples and Land.” says Emily.

“I feel deeply grateful for my relationships with Indigenous friends, mentors, colleagues, community members who so generously and humbly teach me about their Land, histories, cultures, and treaties. I also feel grateful for the incredible leadership of Indigenous communities who are protecting the Land for future generations.” Emily says.

Emily also brings much of her research interest to the university community.  She, along with colleagues Ashlee Cunsolo Willox and Stephen Augustine, have launched the Nation2Nation Indigenous Speaker Series and Reading Circle. The monthly Series brings together diverse people to foster space where co-learning through respectful relations can flourish amongst Indigenous and non-Indigenous people in Unama’ki.

In addition, Emily is collaborating with Dr. Kathy Snow on a photo-elicitation project with a local elementary school, to document and research the story of schoolyard naturalization. Emily says that this research has been conducted through student photography and one-on-one interviews, capturing the perspectives of students on how they experience their school playground before the naturalization effort, and again after the natural play elements have been implemented.  The next phase of the project will engage parents and teachers as well.

“I love working at CBU, and especially teaching the core Community Studies courses, because the BACS pedagogies of self-directed, experiential, and community-engaged learning align so well with my research goals of better understanding how to teach and learn in ways that create flourishing communities.”