Our current geological era, characterized by drastic human impact on the earth's ecosystems, is known as the Anthropocene. Amid this mass global environmental derogation, the concept of Planetary Health seeks to better understand and acknowledge the critical connections between environmental health and human wellbeing, connections which form the core of many Indigenous cosmovisions and worldviews. At the Young Lives Research Lab, Planetary Health guides our work and our relationships with partners, participants, communities and the natural world around us. In our daily work and interactions, we aim to act consciously with regards to the many facets of Planetary Health but we acknowledge that we still have room to grow and improvements to make. Here are some of the ways we support Planetary Health in our daily operations:
A Virtual Lab
YLRL is a virtual co-laboratory where team members, partners and participants from around the world connect an collaborate from the comfort of their own homes, offices, or organizations. While YLRL is based at York University in Toronto, the Lab itself remains flexible and fluid to ensure barriers for participation and collaboration are removed and to reduce the pressures and environmental impact of a daily commute. This remote collaboration design seeks to support work-life balance with flexible work schedules, understanding of familial, cultural and contextual commitments, and the varying needs and styles of work and engagement of our many partners and collaborators.
Planetary Health as a Core Foundation
The health of the planet and the wellbeing of people guides our processes of the design and implementation of youth-centred action research projects and programs with, for and by young people and their communities. Along with offering an inclusive and flexible work environment for core team members, our work with partners is based in culturally and contextually sound practices to ensure we meet local norms for wellbeing and support, as well as environmental and natural-world protection, recognition and respect. Sustainability practices and carbon offsetting - both large and small- are custom-built into each of our projects, and environmental impact assessments are made prior to any structural implementation.
Classrooms 'Without Walls'
Project-Based Learning and understandings of the natural world are fundamental aspects of the development and co-creation of holistic, quality curriculum and educative activities based in relevance and care. We work with partners in designing and implementing teaching and learning opportunities that give students and teachers the opportunity to get out of the formal classroom setting, to explore the natural world around them, and to learn and grow through hands-on, culturally relevant and purposeful activities.
National and international travel is an important and necessary part of our trusted work with partners and participants across Canada and around the globe; there is no replacement for genuine face to face connection and communication. However, we recognize the environmental and economic impacts of air travel and plan consciously to reduce these impacts while maximizing the potential of each journey by furthering relationship building and community engagement, participating in conferences or other Knowledge Mobilization opportunities, meeting with potential new partners, and developing team building activities with colleagues and partners we often only see online. And, whenever possible, we accept invitations to participate in academic and Knowledge Mobilization activities through virtual means.