Hilary Inwood plants a seed 

By Karen Herland

Hilary Inwood Magnifying glass

Hilary Inwood

Hilary Inwood has been teaching for several years in the University of Toronto’s OISE bachelor’s of education program, and raising her family there.

She chose to commute to Montreal to pursue a PhD in Art Education. “It was a better fit,” says Inwood.

Her research focused on four elementary school teachers in Toronto who participated in a collective action-research study developing courses for an eco-art education program for kids.

“We wanted to develop aesthetic activities that would raise children’s awareness about environmental issues and help them take action.”

One of Inwood’s committee members, Lorrie Blair, adds, “her work is innovative because elementary art is usually not very environmentally friendly with the heavy use of paper and materials that can't be recycled.”

The teachers who took part in the project were uncertain at first, since none of them was an art or environmental expert. “We wanted to see what generalist teachers could do. I thought we might get about 16 lesson plans, but they were so dedicated and enthusiastic,” says Inwood.

In the end, the group produced over 50 different lesson plans. And the project grew over time. The theme of gardens and growth is used throughout her thesis, and with good reason. The project grew over time.

Inwood said one teacher developed an eco-art exhibit involving her students’ work in a butterfly garden. The next year, other teachers got their students involved. “By the third year, the whole school participated and parents were invited to a community BBQ to see the work,” Inwood says.

The project continues to bear fruit. Blair, who starts as the Fine Arts Associate Dean of Academic and Student Affairs, this summer, will also be teaching a new art education course on Art and Ecological Perspectives inspired by Inwood’s research.


Concordia University