About the Author
Dave Ramsay is a Salmon Arm resident and an experienced BC Science educator. While developing a watershed sustainability curriculum, he discovered Alberta Tomorrow, a powerful three-part learning project. In collaboration with BC Tomorrow's Board of Directors, business and other educators, Dave has been developing BC Tomorrow for use by educators, educational organizations and the general public in BC.
BC Tomorrow “The Future is in Your Hands - See What You Can Do”
by Dave Ramsay
BC Tomorrow is a non-profit organization that is focused on using an understanding of systems dynamics to find solutions for a sustainable future. To accomplish this goal, we are developing a watershed based, youth focused, innovative three-part learning project: Instructional videos, Future Scenario Simulator and Field studies observations to complement learning.
As the world’s population continues to grow and resource demands increase, adapting to forces like climate change will become increasingly important. Citizens will benefit greatly as they better understand the connection between future outcomes and the land use choices we make today. In recent decades society has also become increasingly aware of the finite nature of the earth’s natural resources. In addition, our watersheds are becoming more and more crowded leading to more and more conflict over what activities can occur and where.
Modelled after Alberta Tomorrow successes, BC Tomorrow’s watershed based, three-part educational program gives users a chance to interactively explore land use sustainability issues in local watersheds. The main driver of BC Tomorrow is the digital future scenario simulator. The simulator helps students explore how land use choices today could positively or negatively impact the future. A set of instructional videos and the ability to link field observations to learning are the two other important elements of BC Tomorrow’s project. When ready, a complete BC Tomorrow educational package will be available, free of charge, to students, teachers, educational organizations and the general public throughout BC.
Users of the simulator first examine how their watershed looked in the past, and then, given current land use trends, what it could look like into the future. They are able to see for themselves what their local watershed could look like if current land use trends continue “business as usual.” Then, based on their knowledge and experiences, and using a set of set of environmental and socio-economic indicators, users set indicator goals and develop their own future scenarios to try and achieve their goals.
Education can be a major driver of systemic change. As BC’s educational curriculum has been redesigned to become more student centered and holistic in terms of the world and ideas, BC Tomorrow sees an opportunity to provide learning tools to complement educators and educational organizations. Applicable at multiple grades and an ability to be applied from a range of perspectives, BC Tomorrow’s learning tools are powerful. Students interact with real data to address real issues. Their results and solutions can be shared with peers, teachers, family members or the community at large. Armed with increased understanding, students can then make choices and take action. BC Tomorrow’s learning tools are also consistent with elements of Indigenous holistic learning principles offering opportunities for shared understandings. Watersheds are dynamic, interconnected, complex systems; their function can be positively and negatively impacted by land use. By studying them using BC Tomorrow’s learning tools, students can better understand the complex interactions at work within natural systems.
Youth are our future leaders and a holistic understanding of the interconnectedness of systems like climate, environment and economy will help find solutions for sustainability. Ideas and solutions can be presented to municipalities, regional districts, water boards, or band councils via youth councils or initiatives resulting in improved public decision making on the future of their region. Engaging youth in scientific, social, and economic land use simulations, combined with localized education and experiential learning, is a critical intervention providing youth with the foundation and catalyst to take action in public decision making that builds a foundation of knowledge and is transformative helping to create sustainable watershed systems for future generations.
(Note from Shuswap Climate Action - Please go to the BC Tomorrow website to find out more about their program and what it can do.)