Anthropocene Classroom Challenge (2021-2022)

A new geological epoch — the Anthropocene — has been proposed by scientists to mark the fact that humanity has now become the primary driver of physical change on the planet. Our everyday activities are permanently affecting Earth’s natural processes more than all other natural forces combined — causing unprecedented changes and unforeseen outcomes. Many students are unaware that everything they do places a demand on nature, from the food they consume to the clothing they buy.

The Anthropocene Project, which is spearheaded by artists Nicholas de Pencier, Edward Burtynsky and Jennifer Baichwal, has had great success in helping audiences understand the intricacies of the Anthropocene through films, books, large-scale murals, 360-degree virtual reality films, and augmented reality installations.

The contest

To get classrooms involved in learning about the Anthropocene and raising awareness of human impacts on the planet, students will be challenged to create their own mini-Anthropocene project. The primary objective of this contest is to deepen student understanding of human-environment interactions at local, regional, and global scales and inspire the next generation to take action against unsustainable everyday human practices.

Another objective of this contest is to give students the opportunity to explore creative storytelling through these various forms of media and share their stories about Earth and humanity’s role within nature with the rest of Canada and the world.

How to participate

Teachers will submit a mini-Anthropocene project developed by their students. All submissions must be based on original work and should investigate the human influence on the state and future of the Earth, using a combination of research and art, writing, film, virtual reality and/or augmented reality. It will be up to each teacher and their students to decide the format, theme, and content of their submission. For example, classrooms may choose to produce a documentary of an ongoing issue in their community, a photo essay showcasing everyday human-environment interactions, a series of art installations designed to transform the school cafeteria or the local park, or a website showcasing their own photography.

Other examples include:
  • Digital art
  • Street art
  • Portraits
  • Magazines
  • Mixed media
  • Sculptures
  • Posters
  • Contemporary art
  • Performance art
  • Creative writing
  • Augmented reality
  • Virtual reality
  • Silent film
  • Experimental and scripted film
  • Interpretive dance

Each submission will require a 500-word (maximum) description detailing the vision behind the project and the main message to the audience. The following headers can be used to structure this document:

  • Project background
  • Project objectives
  • Research methods
  • Lessons learned
  • Take-home message

Note: If students’ faces are shown in videos or photographs, teachers must get parental consent prior to submission (Can Geo Education will supply a consent form). Teachers will be required to collect written consent forms and may be asked to submit these forms to Can Geo Education.

ContestNovember 1, 2021 – May 6, 2022
Registration periodNovember 1, 2021 – January 30, 2022
Project development periodFebruary 1, 2022 – May 6, 2022
Professional development #1TBD
Professional development #2TBD
Project submission deadlineMay 6, 2022
Judging periodMay 9, 2022 – May 27, 2022
Winner announcementWeek of June 5, 2022


A total of 10) winners will be selected, consisting of five top winners and five honourable mentions. These 10 submissions will be showcased during a special event for the public at a location to be determined. The top 10 submissions will also be showcased either on the websites, social media, or in-house screens of the contest partners.

The grand prize: The overall winning submission will receive $4,000, an original Edward Burtynsky print, a trilogy of films on Blu Ray or DVD (including Manufactured Landscapes, Watermark, and Anthropocene: The Human Epoch), a hardcover version of the book Anthropocene, and merchandise from Canadian Geographic. All prizes will be awarded to the school of the winning classroom.

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