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Island-born teacher wins climate action award during COP28

Lucas Olscamp's course has been running for two years and he's excited for the potential it has to reach a larger audience. (Lucas Olscamp - image credit)
Lucas Olscamp's course has been running for two years and he's excited for the potential it has to reach a larger audience. (Lucas Olscamp - image credit)

P.E.I.-born educator Lucas Olscamp travelled from Vancouver Island to Dubai, United Arab Emirates this week as one of five finalists in a climate change challenge that took place during COP28.

Olscamp teaches at Pearson College UWC, a pre-university International Baccalaureate school with students from over 100 countries.

His course, Narrative Ecology, Selfhood and Thinking, has been running for two years as part of the school's Climate Action Leadership Diploma program.

He took first place in the competition for having the best lesson plan.

"To be able to see that there is value in the ways that I'm approaching teaching was really inspiring," said Olscamp, who is originally from Warren Grove.

Also teaching visual arts and theatre, Olscamp, who lives in Metchosin, B.C., works to incorporate those into the lesson plans.

"I took this perspective of how to build personal professional skills through the lens of climate action," Olscamp said, "integrating cross-disciplinary approaches involving things like the arts, storytelling, orality, Indigenous knowledge systems and performance."

The five teacher and five student finalists in the challenge travelled to Dubai this week from countries including Canada, the UK, Lebanon and India.
The five teacher and five student finalists in the challenge travelled to Dubai this week from countries including Canada, the UK, Lebanon and India.

The five teachers and five student finalists in the challenge travelled to Dubai this week from countries including Canada, the U.K., Lebanon and India. (Burjeel Holdings Oxford Saïd)

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The competition was put on by Burjeel Holdings — a Middle East and North African health-care services provider — in partnership with European business school Oxford Saïd.

Olscamp's submission was the only Canadian finalist among 600 entries. As a prize, Olscamp will travel to Oxford University in a few months for a tailored climate action program.

"Initially, I had hesitations thinking I would be more of an outsider," he told CBC News in a Zoom interview from Dubai. "I was quickly welcomed."

Never stop learning

Olscamp's lesson plan is now available online for other educators to use. He hopes it will be adapted by educators for students in different parts of the world.

Olscamp presented in front of educators and students from around the world in Dubai on Saturday.
Olscamp presented in front of educators and students from around the world in Dubai on Saturday.

Olscamp presented in front of educators and students from around the world in Dubai on Saturday. (Lucas Olscamp)

"Some of them are very adaptable and really approachable and, I hope, really inclusive," he said. "The ways that I'm teaching I think can be done with little to no budget, little to no access to or purchasing of textbooks or materials."

After seeing the other entrants, Olscamp says he was particularly inspired by the high school students who competed.

"All of us adults in the room kept reminding ourselves that these are teenagers and … in many ways they were sounding and presenting confidently and bravely as if they were an undergrad or graduate program," he said.

As Olscamp prepares to head back to Canada, he says the biggest takeaway from the conference is to never stop learning.

"As teachers it is a duty and responsibility to not stop learning and to not stop adapting to our students around us," he said. "Whether it's coming from the students, from the environment itself, or from other incredible wisdom that's being shared with me, I constantly find myself ever-evolving."