What does it look like?If you've seen the Downstream/Upstream Project, that is an example. In fact, it is the project that incubated the Earth Systems Journey model. Is it art or education? Both. While it is related to environmental art, it is perhaps better described as "Art-led Environmental Education," since it is using art in a more instrumental way toward more specific goals about education.
Why?It has been said we need “a new story” of the earth and our place in it to move toward sustainability. Concepts of interdependence and interconnection are fundamental to sustainability, but hard to comprehend in a culture still designed around individual independence. An Earth Systems Journey, such as the Downstream/Upstream project, responds to this need. ESJ is designed to instill a sense of “experiential integration” between participants, their school, and the larger social, technological and natural systems that bring water, energy and materials to their school to support their daily life.
Next StepsI am in the process of developing a website for Earth Systems Journey. Meanwhile, if you go to the Downstream/Upstream project site, you'll find some description of ESJ (which was called "Systems Journey" at the time of that project.) If you are interested in one at your school or organization, I'd be glad to talk to you about it. An Earth Systems Journey can range from several-day activities that stay on the school grounds, to a several-week learning theme with field trips (like Downstream/Upstream), to an organizing theme for an entire school year with many field trips like what is in planning stages now for some pilot projects.
I am also a Research Fellow at the University of Minnesota, Center for Sustainable Building Research, and I am collaborating with other researchers and with schools on grant proposals to further pilot the Earth Systems Journey Framework and evaluate its effectiveness.
If you'd like to get updates on Earth Systems Journey, please let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org