Cary Campbell

Term Lecturer
Faculty of Education


Dr. Cary Campbell is a researcher-educator working broadly in educational theory and curriculum, with specific focuses on ecological & place-based education, multimodality & critical media literacy, educational or edu-semiotics, as well as arts education. He is a full-time lecturer in the Faculty of Education at Simon Fraser University and part of the Online Learning Hub team, committed to cultivating rich and meaningful online, undergraduate education within the Faculty.

Cary completed his PhD in Arts Education at SFU in 2020, and has worked as a music/arts educator, ensemble director and performing/recording musician for over a decade, also holding a Bachelors of Music.

Research Interests

My research and teaching are centered on developing ecologically-informed, as well as place and land-conscious, approaches to pedagogy, curriculum and learning theory. Through trans-disciplinary research collaborations with ecologists/biologists, as well as media and environmental humanities scholars, I’ve explored practices and theories that decenter narrowly anthropocentric, disembodied and language-centred frameworks in education.

I have specifically contributed to a scholarly discourse within educational philosophy often called edusemiotics, occurring at the intersections of biosemiotics, embodied cognition, multimodality, and post-humanism, that theorizes the implications of understanding human learning and cognition as continuous and related with other forms of animal and ecological learning.

Through my ongoing work as Director of Research for the registered BC society and research group The Group (multimodal research), I collaborate with teachers, artists, researchers and community members, to create curriculum resources and digital tools that connect people and students with their own localities, communities, and public spaces. This curriculum work, is undertaken, always, with the intention of disrupting entrenched colonial narratives and perspectives through revitalizing understandings of Indigenous/Coast Salish presence on the land (place-names, village sites, historical/cultural sites, sites of TEK, or Traditional Ecological Knowledge, such as clam middens, fish weirs, prescribed burning sites, etc.). See, for instance, the ongoing collaboration FLIP THE MAP!  a flexible series of curriculum resources that encourages creative and arts-based interactions with cartography as a means towards understanding the land/place where we live.

I am also interested in inventive and arts-based approaches to qualitative educational research in general, including sound-based approaches informed by soundscape ecology and sonic ethnography.

Recent Publications

  • Campbell, C, Lackovic, N. & A. Olteanu. (2021). A strong approach to sustainability literacy: embodied ecology and media. In: A. Stables (Ed.), special issue: “New perspectives in the philosophy of education. Philosophies, 6(1), 14. 
  • Campbell, C., Olteanu, A., and K. Kull. (2019). Learning and knowing as semiosis: Extending the conceptual apparatus of semiotics. Sign Systems Studies, 47(3/4), 352-381. 
  • Campbell, C. (2018). Educating Openness: Umberto Eco’s Poetics of Openness as a Pedagogical Value. Signs and Society, 6(2), 305-331. 
  • Campbell, C. (2018). Returning ‘learning’ to education: Toward an ecological conception of learning and teaching. In: A. Olteanu, & A. Stables (Eds.), special issue: “Learning & Adaptation, Semiotic Perspectives”, Sign Systems Studies, 46(4), 538-568.
  • Campbell, C. Educating Semiosis: Foundational Concepts for an Ecological Edusemiotic. Stud Philos Educ 38, 291–317 (2019). 
  • Campbell, C. (2016). Indexical ways of knowing: An inquiry into the indexical sign and how to educate for novelty. Philosophical Inquiry in Education, 24(1), 15-36.