Glenn Sutter's blog

Ecomuseums in SK?

Dear Colleagues,


I am trying to assess the potential for ecomuseums in this province, as part of my sustainability research program.  If you know about local examples or related activities, like cultural tourism or watershed stewardship groups, please send me details, e.g., the region involved, the key players, etc.  I would also like to hear from you if you think an ecomuseum could help to address issues and build capacity in your region or community.


Here is some background on ecomuseums, to pique your interest:


An ‘ecomuseum’ is a definable region where people work together to celebrate and maintain their communities, their landscapes, and their ways of life.  The region can range from a city neighborhood to an entire watershed, and the people usually include interested residents, local decision-makers, and other key stakeholders.  Their work, aimed at the adaptive management of cultural and natural features, includes site development or restoration, periodic surveys, and projects or programs designed to attract tourists.  Together, their efforts create a ‘museum’ as they identify and interpret stories and features that reflect the cultural and natural heritage of the region, e.g., past and current industries, farming and ranching, important wildlife areas, etc.  The prefix ‘eco’ (for ecology or the ‘study of home’) refers to the fact that examples of this heritage are studied and enjoyed where they exist.


Ecomuseums were first developed in France in the 1970s to foster “holistic interpretations of cultural heritage.” Over time, the model spread and was adapted for different types of heritage sites, but it continues to provide a basis for “an agreement by which a local community takes care of a place.”  Currently, there are more than 300 ecomuseums in operation around the world, including 50 in Italy, a handful in southeast Asia and Quebec, and one billed as “Canada’s largest” in Alberta.  Some of these “open institutions” cover large areas; others are small, isolated sites.  Some rely on tourism; others are more about community engagement.  Some provide a showcase for local arts and crafts; others reflect local industries and related skills.  A few encourage research through local governments and universities.  For online examples, see and


Studies show that ecomuseums can be valuable where people are already working but are somewhat isolated in their efforts to maintain the cultural and natural values of a region.  They provide a forum for crafting shared visions, resolving conflicts, sharing information, and coordinating activities.  They can also foster sustainability, by enhancing local identity, community engagement, and in some cases tourism.  Unlike a traditional museum, ecomuseums are not about building or housing large collections and exhibits, so they can move quickly to help regions anticipate and respond to changing conditions. 


Overall, ecomuseums can give residents a strong voice and the chance to influence, promote, and engage in activities that affect their region.  They can also give people a way to protect their land, their communities, and their way of life.  If you live in or know about a place where an ecomuseum might take root, please get in touch and send this note to others who might be interested.  As feedback comes in, I will post a synopsis on my webpage at  I will also set up a blog or a Facebook group to keep the discussion going, if there is sufficient interest.


Thanks in advance!



Glenn C. Sutter, Ph.D.,

RSM Curator of Human Ecology, phone: (306) 787-2859;

UNESCO identifies the RSM as a ‘Good Practice’ in ESD and Culture!

In March, the Royal Saskatchewan Museum (RSM) was singled out as a ‘good practice’ in education for sustainable development (ESD), as part of a UNESCO research project called Linking Culture, Education and Sustainability: Good Practices and Experiences from Around the World.”  Details about the project have just been posted at, so policy-makers and practitioners can learn more about the relationships between ESD, cultural diversity and intercultural dialogue. 


Initiated last fall through the University of Gloucestershire, this study was undertaken after a global review that showed culture lagging behind in policies and strategies aimed at ESD objectives. The aim was to increase appreciation for the cultural dimensions of sustainability by collecting, analyzing, and sharing information about inspiring ESD practices, across a wide range of stakeholders.


From over 50 submissions, the researchers selected 25 examples of a ‘good practice’ around ESD and culture, producing a list that covers 17 different countries and 6 continents.   Only one other Canadian example was selected, and the only other example from a museum is a global project out of the World Aquarium in St. Louis. 

The RSM made the cut because of displays, programs, and research associated with The Human Factor exhibit, which aims to instil a sense of wonder and concern about the global ecosystem and the different phases of human cultural development, to encourage personal reflection about our dependence on nature and human communities, and to stimulate discussions and actions that might put individuals and their communities on a sustainable path.  Cultural issues are especially evident in a series of displays known as the “towers,” which represent concentrations of social and political power associated with the industrialized worldview.

Earth Hour 2011 - A Suzuki Birthday Bash!

Earth Hour 2011- A Suzuki Birthday Bash!
Saturday, March 26, 2011, show 8:00pm

The Artesian on 13th, Regina

SaskMusic is pleased to support this upcoming evening of rich, original folk-rock in support of Earth Hour, David Suzuki’s 75th birthday, and the Universal Music iTunes release of the CBC Radio 3/David Suzuki Playlist for the Planet.  The concert will take place on Saturday, March 26, 2011 at The Artesian on 13th in Regina and will feature four Regina singer/songwriters; Glenn Sutter, David j. Taylor, Rebecca Lascue, and Michael Paul. The event will also feature special internet appearances by David Suzuki (via videotape) and his daughter Severn Cullis-Suzuki (via skype).


Glenn Sutter is a Saskatchewan ecologist and educator who writes and plays kick-ass folk-rock.  Drawing on deep prairie roots, he uses thoughtful lyrics and moving guitar and piano melodies to express ideas about nature, love, and the human condition. Glenn’s song “Weight of the World” was selected as the official Saskatchewan song on the CBC Radio 3/David Suzuki Playlist for the Planet.


David j. Taylor is an award-winning record producer/engineer/mixer. He won "Producer of the Year" - 2007 Western Canadian Music Awards and was again nominated for the award in 2008. David’s most recent project is a collaborative album and SXSW Showcase with the trio Semko Fontaine and Taylor.


Rebecca Lascue and Michael Paul have been playing together for the past year as they both work on their psychology degrees.  They combine elegant songwriting with creative harmonies and instrumentations.


Earth Hour is a yearly global event that draws attention to global warming and the need to conserve energy. Join us in reflection and celebration as the world goes dark! Half the proceeds from this event will be donated to the David Suzuki Foundation.


Also supported by the Saskatchewan Outdoor and Environmental Education Association and the David Suzuki Foundation.


Tickets are $15 each ($10 for students) and will be available at the door.


For more information please contact Glenn Sutter at 306.787.2859 or 306.522.7670.

Earthcast about Sustainability Education and Training

The next Earthcast is all about Sustainability Education and Training, including the need for curriculum work in higher education.  Click here for details and to register.

Webcast about ecosystem approaches to health via IDRC Agriculture and Environment program

IDRC event and live webcast — A conversation with David Waltner-Toews
Ecohealth in a complex world: policy’s holy grail?


Parasites in Nepal. Mercury poisoning in the Amazon. Malnutrition in the Himalayan highlands. Rabies in Bali. Food security everywhere. The world seems to be tumbling out of control, diseases old and new appear and re-appear, and the old technical and political agendas seem powerless – and lack the economic resources - to respond effectively. Just as fever, diarrhea and respiratory distress are not separate problems to be solved, but expressions of a body in distress, health outcomes are symptoms of interactions among social, economic, and ecological changes. If seen this way, they can be understood and managed effectively and economically.

This is the premise, and the promise, of ecosystem approaches to health — ecohealth – which integrates science, culture and politics, and links research, action and policy-making. Using complex, systemic thinking and collaborations of a wide variety of researchers, policy makers, and local residents, ecohealth creates the kind of resilient communities where people can achieve physical, mental and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.

Pre-eminent ecohealth researcher David Waltner-Toews will be at the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) to engage in conversation with Jean Lebel, Director of IDRC’s Agriculture and Environment program, about how ecohealth research provides a rich multidisciplinary understanding of the complex factors affecting human health.

Waltner-Toews will also discuss how the use of ecohealth approaches can lead to better policies and practices across a variety of issues — from agriculture and environmental sustainability to social equity, nutrition, and local democracy.

When: Wednesday, November 24, 2010, 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.Where: IDRC, W. David Hopper Room, 150 Kent Street, 8th floor, Ottawa, ON
David Waltner-Toews is founding president of Veterinarians without Borders and the Network for Ecosystem Sustainability and Health. A professor at the University of Guelph, his research expertise includes emerging diseases, ecohealth, and epidemiology. He has collaborated on research and teaching in Africa, Latin America, and Asia.

His publications include Ecosystem Sustainability and Health: A Practical Approach; Integrated Assessment of Health and Sustainability of Agroecosytems; and the popular science book Food, Sex and Salmonella: Why our Food is Making us Sick.

Waltner-Toews recently received the inaugural award for Outstanding Contributions to the Field of Ecohealth from the International Association for Ecology and Health.

The conversation with David Waltner-Toews is part of IDRC’s Speakers of Renown series, being held throughout 2010 to mark the Centre’s 40th anniversary.

The event is free but seating is limited, so PLEASE REGISTER.

French and English simultaneous interpretation will be available.

The event will be webcast live. Questions may be submitted during the talk to and will be answered as time permits. No need to register to join the webcast.

Information: 613-696-2244

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