Doctor Kumara Ward

Doctor Kumara Ward

Senior Lecturer, Early Childhd Curclm Ped,
Early Childhood Education (SoE)


I am an Early Childhood academic in the School of Education with the University of Western Sydney and lecture in in Curriculum and Pedagogy. My research interests include "The Natural Curriculum": nature education and its role in identity, wellbeing and sustainability, place-based education and development of the naturalist intelligence, metacognition and art-based pedagogies. My work draws on theories of ecopsychology, post-human frameworks, relational materialism, common worlds, multiple intelligences, theories of place and funds of knowledge. I am a specialist in creative education and in teaching pre-service educators to bring their curriculum content to life using the arts, the community and the natural environment.

My doctoral thesis examined the disconnect between humans and the natural world and the effect this has on emotional and psychological wellbeing and sustainability, in particular on educators and young children's predispositions toward a sense of belonging to their environment and environmental stewardship. Focusing on children in preschool settings, the thesis explored the effects of incorporating daily content about the natural world into the early childhood program through creative arts experiences. These experiences, generated by the educators, in collaboration with the researcher, included storytelling, music, movement, visual arts and sculpture. The findings showed the extent to which the natural world became a key element in the preschool curriculum and the heightened sense of ‘knowledge of’ and ‘connection to’ the natural world that resulted from this, for both the children and the educators.

Prior to joining UWS I managed the Moderation and Accreditation Process for the National Childcare Accreditation Council which was responsible for supporting and enhancing quality in childcare settings across the country. I have taught in the VET sector both in private colleges and in TAFE and prior to this I taught in Steiner Education at all levels for a period of 15 years. I have presented at National and International conferences on Curriculum and Pedagogy.

This information has been contributed by Doctor Ward.


  • PhD University of Western Sydney
  • MSocSc (Dist) University of Western Sydney
  • BEd Edith Cowan University
  • BTeach (EC) University of New England
  • GDip Train Dev Griffith University

Professional Memberships

  • Australasian Leader Nature Action Collaborative for Children (2018 - 2022)
  • Nature Action Collaborative for Children (2009 - 2015)

Organisational Unit (School / Division)

  • Early Childhood Education (SoE)


Phone: (02) 9772 6329
Mobile: 0430031900
Location: 4.G.19

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Previous Teaching Areas

  • 101099 Engaging Children in Curriculum, 2014
  • 101103 Fostering Creativity in Children's Learning, 2014
  • 101899 Introduction to Pedagogical Leadership, 2014
  • 102047 Learning Environments, 2014
  • 102159 Designing Curriculum Futures, 2016


Chapters in Books

  • Ward, K. (2018), 'Singing in the forest : outdoor education as early childhood curriculum', The Palgrave International Handbook of Women and Outdoor Learning, Palgrave Macmillan 9783319535494.
  • Ward, K. (2017), 'Beyond sustainability : new visions for human econnection in early childhood education', Reimagining Sustainability in Precarious Times, Springer 9789811025488.
  • Inwood, H., Heimlich, J., Ward, K. and Adams, J. (2017), 'Environmental arts', Urban Environmental Education Review, Cornell University Press 9781501705823.
  • Ward, K. (2017), 'Inquiry arts pedagogy and experiential nature education : econnection in early childhood', Building Sustainability with the Arts: Proceedings of the 2nd National EcoArts Australis Conference, Cambridge Scholars Publishing 9781443891332.
  • Ward, K. (2015), 'The natural world as content for interconnection and divergence of pretense and storytelling in children's play', Children's Play, Pretense, and Story: Studies in Culture, Context, and Autism Spectrum Disorder, Routledge 9781848725430.

Journal Articles

  • Gray, T., Tracey, D., Truong, S. and Ward, K. (2022), 'Community gardens as local learning environments in social housing contexts : participant perceptions of enhanced wellbeing and community connection', Local Environment: The International Journal of Justice and Sustainability, vol 27, no 5 , pp 570 - 585.
  • Truong, S., Gray, T. and Ward, K. (2022), 'Enhancing urban nature and place-making in social housing through community gardening', Urban Forestry Urban Greening, vol 72 .
  • Ward, K., Truong, S. and Gray, T. (2022), 'Connecting to nature through community engaged scholarship : community gardens in social housing as sites for collaborative relationships, psychological and physiological wellbeing', Frontiers in Psychiatry, vol 13 .
  • Mercieca, D., Mercieca, D. and Ward, K. (2021), 'Teachers working in special schools in Scotland acting with practical wisdom : supporting children with additional needs in COVID-19 lockdown', Education Sciences, vol 11, no 10 .
  • Widdop Quinton, H., Ward, K., Ahearn, M. and Carapeto, T. (2020), 'Resonances : tuning into the echoes of the ecological collective', Australian Journal of Environmental Education, vol 36, no 2 , pp 169 - 188.
  • Ward, K. (2018), 'What's in a dream? : natural elements, risk and loose parts in children's dream playspace drawings', Australasian Journal of Early Childhood, vol 43, no 1 , pp 34 - 42.
  • Tracey, D., Gray, T., Truong, S. and Ward, K. (2018), 'Combining acceptance and commitment therapy with adventure therapy to promote psychological wellbeing for children at-risk', Frontiers in Psychology, vol 9 .
  • Truong, S., Singh, M., Reid, C., Gray, T. and Ward, K. (2018), 'Vertical schooling and learning transformations in curriculum research : points and counterpoints in outdoor education and sustainability', Curriculum Perspectives, vol 38, no 2 , pp 181 - 186.
  • Ward, K. (2017), 'The arts and sustainability : Econnection in early childhood', Exchange, vol 233, no Jan/Feb , pp 36 - 37.
  • Burrell, A., Gray, T., Wright, D. and Ward, K. (2017), 'The way digitized lectures and film presence coaching impact academic identity : an expert facilitated participatory action research case study', International Journal of Social, Behavioral, Educational, Economic, Business and Industrial Engineering, vol 11, no 6 , pp 1398 - 1403.
  • Truong, S., Gray, T. and Ward, K. (2016), '"Sowing and growing" life skills through garden-based learning to reengage disengaged youth', LEARNing Landscapes, vol 10, no 1 , pp 361 - 385.
  • Ward, K. (2016), 'Children's Spatialities: Embodiment, Emotion and Agency', Children, Youth and Environments, vol 26, no 1 , pp 195 - 197.
  • Ward, K. (2015), 'Music and place belong together', The Bulli: Orff Schulwerk Association of New South Wales, vol 43, no 1 , pp 7 - 10.
  • Ward, K. (2013), 'Creative arts-based pedagogies in early childhood education for sustainability (EfS) : challenges and possibilities', Australian Journal of Environmental Education, vol 29, no 2 , pp 165 - 181.
  • Ward, K. (2008), 'Enhancing environmental awareness through the arts', Australian Journal of Early Childhood, vol 33, no 3 , pp 19 - 26.

Conference Papers

  • Gray, T., Truong, S., Tracey, D. and Ward, K. (2018), 'Get out of the way and let the outdoors be the teacher', European Institute for Outdoor Adventure Education and Experiential Learning. Conference, Plymouth, England.
  • Truong, S., Gray, T., Ward, K. and Tracey, D. (2018), 'Expanding the circles across outdoor learning and acceptance commitment therapy in schools', International Adventure Therapy Conference, Stanwell Tops, N.S.W..
  • Truong, S., Gray, T., Ward, K., Tracey, D. and Pettitt, P. (2018), 'The impact of community gardening on perceived health and wellbeing in social housing communities', International Outdoor Education Research Conference, Sippy Downs, Qld..
  • Truong, S., Gray, T. and Ward, K. (2016), ''Sowing and growing' life skills through garden-based learning to re-engage disengaged youth', National Outdoor Education Conference, Sunshine Coast, Qld..
  • Arthur, L., Ward, K., Cardona, B., Staples, K. and Truong, S. (2015), 'Professional identities : contested discourses', European Early Childhood Education Research Association. Annual Conference, Barcelona, Spain.

Other Publications

  • 2019, 'Wilding Nature Play for Children and Families: An Evaluation of The Ian Potter Children's WILD PLAY Garden at Centennial Park, Sydney', Report
  • 2018, 'The Impact of Royal Botanic Gardens' Community Greening Program on Perceived Health, Wellbeing, and Social Benefits in Social Housing Communities in NSW', Report
  • 2018, 'Vertical Schools and Green Space: Canvassing the Literature', Report
  • 2018, 'ACT in the Outdoors: A Program Based on Acceptance Commitment Therapy and Adventure Therapy: Facilitator Manual', Report
  • 2017, 'Econnection in Early Childhood Education: Synergies in Inquiry Arts Pedagogies and Experiential Nature Education', Report
  • 2017, 'Fostering the Wellbeing of Students With Challenging Behaviour and/or Emotional Needs Through Acceptance Commitment Therapy and Outdoor Learning', Report
  • 2014, 'Researching Children's Designs for a Child Friendly Play Space at Rouse Hill Town Centre', Report

Current Research

In October 2012, I joined a new chapter of the Futuro Infantil Hoy project conducted by Associate Professor Christine Woodrow in Santiago, Chile. This research focuses on leadership and capacity building. My role in this research has been to implement programs to assist participants to identify and build on their strengths as pedagogical leaders and to recognise their community and connection to place as key foundations of their professional identity. Another key component of the FIH program is building community and leadership capacity through literacy. This includes encouraging the development of resources for all areas of the early childhood program that are connected to multi-literacies and that draw upon understandings of place, community, cultural and familial funds of knowledge. My expertise in literacy, place-based education and in creative arts pedagogies is employed in this research program through the scaffolding of participant knowledge and appraisal of data collected post implementation of place and arts-based pedagogies.

I am also a collaborating researcher with Professor Karen Malone and Dr Son Truong in Child friendly research with children and parents to inform designing play spaces in Rouse Hill Town Centre (RHTC). This research is implementing a number of strategic research activities with children (2-8 years), parents groups and the community to provide data that will inform the redesign of a public play space at RHTC.

This information has been contributed by Doctor Ward.

Previous Projects

Title: Child-friendly play spaces in Rouse Hill Town Centre
  • GPT Funds Management 2 Pty Ltd
Western Researchers: Karen Malone, Son Truong and Kumara Ward
Years: 2013-12-19 - 2014-04-30
ID: P00021864
Title: Wilding Nature Play for Children and Families: An evaluation of the Ian Potter Children's Wild Play Garden
  • Centennial Park and Moore Park Trust
Western Researchers: Brenda Dobia, Son Truong and Kumara Ward
Years: 2018-07-23 - 2019-02-21
ID: P00025196
Title: The impact of Royal Botanic Gardens' Community Greening program on perceived health, wellbeing, and social benefits in social housing communities in NSW
  • Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain Trust
Western Researchers: Son Truong, Tonia Gray, Kumara Ward and Danielle Tracey
Years: 2017-05-01 - 2018-04-30
ID: P00024002
Title: Fostering the wellbeing of students with challenging behaviour and/or emotional needs through Acceptance Commitment Therapy
  • Lomandra School
Western Researchers: Tonia Gray, Danielle Tracey, Son Truong and Kumara Ward
Years: 2016-09-02 - 2017-04-30
ID: P00023621


Doctor Ward is available to be a principal supervisor for doctoral projects

Current Supervision

Thesis Title: Drama Methodologies and the Enhancement of Understanding of Place
Field of Research:
Thesis Title: How Does Cultural Identity Emerge from a Pedagogical Intervention with Students in a Year 11 Visual Arts Classroom in an Islamic School?
Field of Research:
Thesis Title: Classical Mythology: an Interpretive Tool in the Analysis of Stage 5 English Texts
Field of Research:
Thesis Title: Academic Stage Fright - considering a theoretical solution
Field of Research:
Thesis Title: Mentoring as a Professional Learning Approach to Support Early Childhood Educators in the Implementation of the National Quality Standards in Australia
Field of Research:

Previous Supervision

Thesis Title: Scholarly Enculturation: A Journey for a Multi-Sector, Multi-Campus Higher Education Provider
Field of Research:
Thesis Title: Steiner Waldorf Education in Transition: Critical Narratives Towards Renewal
Field of Research: Curriculum And Education Studies; Education; Teacher Education
Thesis Title: Bush Tracks And Backyards: Intergenerational Changes and Challenges for Children Claiming Play Spaces.
Field of Research: Teacher Education, N.e.c.
Thesis Title: An Exploration of the Strengths and Weaknesses of the Kindergarten Curriculum of Saudi Arabia: Principals' and Teachers' Perspective
Field of Research:
Thesis Title: The Spirit of Reconciliation: A Phenomenology of the Fault-Line Between the Attachments to Land of Indigenous Australians and the Settler Society
Field of Research:

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