About us

Learning for Earth Ako Futures (LEAF) research cluster 

The LEAF cluster was created by Ben Kennedy and Sara Tolbert to encourage collaboration in the Earth Education space at the University of Canterbury.


The future of education on planet Earth is changing. It will become increasingly dependent on research driven innovation that prioritises sustainable futures for our planet and engages with the inevitable convenience and broader impacts of digital and online learning. We emphasise the evidence-based need for personally, culturally and environmentally situated learning experiences. 

Our cluster is unique in Southern Hemisphere.

Our research and educational interventions address critical issues in future-focussed education, digital education futures, climate change, disaster/risk management, water, food security, science/public policy, and other key areas. A key aim is to create connection, awareness and knowledge that enhances public understanding around these global problems without creating panic. Communities also need educational resources and support that can be easily accessed to manage global or local disasters that disrupt traditional face-to-face modes of learning, such as the recent pandemic.


Central to our work are healthy and sustainable relationships with our planet and community, culture. We engage in research as opportunities to explore what is possible at the intersection of science, technology, and society as it relates to public awareness, citizenship, and education. Strong connections with schools and community partners are cornerstones of our research projects, which have local, national and global benefits in terms of designing and disseminating national bicultural resources, and international scientifically and technologically driven products (e.g., digital learning tools, course modules, etc.) that have been developed in partnership with end users.