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ESE Primer & Resources – Response to ACDE’s Accord

Breaking news – The Association of Canadian Deans of Education (ACDE) launched its Accord on Education for a Sustainable Future last week. This launch was part of the UBC Dean’s Distinguished Lecture: Climate Justice and Educational Responsibility featuring Naomi Klein and Avi Lewis – the recording is available online.

We commend the ACDE for recognizing the urgency of the climate crisis, and commit to supporting this policy statement, helping to ensure that all faculties of education embed its concepts into preservice and inservice teacher education across the country. We recognize that many faculties of education need support to fully implement the Accord, and so have prepared a ‘primer’ on Environmental & Sustainability Education (ESE) in Teacher Education as a starting point.

Please feel free to share the ACDE’s Accord and this primer with your networks to raise awareness about the critical importance of ESE, as well as starting points for enacting it, in Canadian faculties of education.

If you are a faculty member in a teacher education program in Canada, we encourage you to take advantage of the launch of this Accord to meet with your colleagues, program administration, Dean and community partners to advocate for a stronger presence for ESE and climate change education in preservice and inservice teacher education across the country.

To support your advocacy, you will find many resources, videos, course syllabi, research studies, reference lists and case studies on the ESE-TE network website. We are also offering a new speaker’s service to share expertise in ESE as requested.

We will continue to create and share supports and resources in the coming months, but need your help to bring these forward to your faculty of education to advocate for better embedding ESE in Teacher Education in our country, and around the world.


UPCOMING RELATED EVENT: Launch of the Accord for a Sustainable Future (March 29)

The Association of Canadian Deans of Education is launching its Accord for a Sustainable Future on March 29, 2022 (5:30-8pm PT), along with a lecture by Naomi Klein and Avi Lewis (hosted by UBC).

Please consider inviting your own Dean and colleagues to attend this event with you – this is an opportunity to advocate for a stronger presence for climate change education and ESE in teacher education across the country. The link with further information is below; register in advance for this free online event.

Launch of the Accord on Education for a Sustainable Future: Dean’s Distinguished Lecture, Climate Justice and Educational Responsibility Featuring Naomi Klein and Avi Lewis

March 29, 5:30-8pm PT

Registration is required


Help Deepen Research into Climate Change Education

A promotional image for Learning for a Sustainable Future's new Climate Change Education survey, with an embedded QR code link to the survey.
A promotional image for Learning for a Sustainable Future’s new Climate Change Education survey, with an embedded QR code link to the survey.

Learning for a Sustainable Future (LSF) is excited to follow up with their second climate change education survey to see how things have changed since their ground-breaking one in 2019. For the 2021 survey, LSF wants to hear from K-12 educators, parents of K-12 students, students 12-18 years of age, faculty of education instructors, and members of the general public. Access the survey here.


New National E-Course in ESE for Student Teachers starts its second semester

In September 2021 we launched a Canadian-wide E-course on ESE for preservice teachers. Over 260 students registered for the course, far exceeding expectations for filling the two cohorts (95 are currently enrolled.)  Unique in its co-curricular, online approach and national reach, this E-course introduces teacher candidates to core ESE principles connected to Land & place, Indigenous Knowledge, sustainability, diversity, equity & inclusion, wellbeing, and action & agency. Each month, students participate in a synchronous online class, and undertake 2 readings and learning tasks on their own, as well as develop a culminating Inquiry Project. A research study is investigating students’ experiences in this course.

The initial promotion image from August 2021 for the Canadian-wide E-course on ESE for preservice teachers.

The initial promotion image from August 2021 for the Canadian-wide E-course on ESE for preservice teachers.


Introducing our new ESE-TE Standing Committee Members

A warm welcome to the new ESE-TE Standing Committee Members!

We are happy to announce that there are four new members of the ESE-TE Standing Committee (SC) from across Canada: Dr. Thomas Falkenberg (MB), Shannon Harding (NS), Dr. Andrejs Kulnieks (SK), and Alisa Paul (BC); read more about them on the SC webpage. We would like to extend our heartfelt gratitude to SC members who have recently completed their terms for all of their hard work and dedication to ESE-TE: Dr. Debra Harwood (ON), Dr. Patrick Howard (NS), Dr. Rick Kool (BC), & Dr. Janet McVittie (SK). Our sincere thanks also to Dr. Douglas Karrow, who has completed his term as founding Co-Chair and will remain on the SC. Dr. Paul Elliott will be our new Co-Chair, joining Dr. Hilary Inwood. Thanks to all for their involvement!


Introducing a new research report on Environmental and Sustainability Education in Canadian Teacher Education

We are pleased to announce an exciting new report is now available! Environmental and Sustainability Education in Canadian Faculties of Education, 2017-2018: A research report for the EECOM Standing Committee on Environmental and Sustainability Education in Teacher Education completed by Drs. Richard Kool, Douglas D. Karrow, and Maurice DiGiuseppe can be downloaded by clicking the ‘download’ button above.

This study was conceived in June 2016 at the first National Roundtable on Canadian ESE-TE (ESE-TE stands for “Environmental Sustainability Education in Teacher Education”) held at Trent University in Peterborough, Ontario, Canada, where a “National Action Plan” was prepared, suggesting that a survey-based study be conducted to “assess the state of ESE-PTE in Canada” (Karrow & DiGiuseppe, 2019, p. 16).

From this event, a group of National Roundtable participants established the “EECOM Standing Committee on ESE-TE”, which, in the fall of 2017, formed a “Research Development Group” that planned and designed the current study. Three members of this Group formed a “Research and Author Team” that created the research materials, carried out the study, analyzed the data, and prepared this report. 

The report presents the findings of this 2019 online survey assessing ESE in preservice teacher education (PTE) programs across Canada. Do you want to learn more about this report and the state of ESE in Canadian faculties of education? Register today for the upcoming online Research Symposium on April 21st as part of the EECOM conference!

EECOM conferences are the largest annual gatherings of people passionate about Environmental and Sustainability Education! This year’s conference is hosted by Toronto-based partners EcoSchools Canada, OISE, TDSB EcoSchools and Natural Curiosity. Find out all about this four-day event on the conference website. We look forward to seeing you online!



Register now for EECOM 2021, the largest environmental education conference in Canada!

Registration is open for EECOM 2021, Canada’s largest annual national environmental education conference! For the first time ever, EECOM 2021 will be taking place exclusively online, running April 21-24, 2021 and welcomes educators, grades 11, 12, and post-secondary students, classrooms, community organizations, and parents.

A child looks at a tree outside. The text over this background imagine reads "EECOM 2021 - Exploring the Nature of Cities - Urban Environmental Education in Action; Streaming virtually April 21-24, 2021 - Register now"
Register for EECOM now to guarantee your spot!

The conference kicks off with a Research Symposium featuring some of the leading researchers and educators from Canada and around the world on April 21 and an opportunity to provide input on identifying and prioritizing a national ESE-TE research agenda, followed by three days of dynamic sessions and workshops focusing on four themes: City as Classroom, Indigenous Education, EcoJustice Education, and Water Education.

We’ll also be bringing you three inspiring keynote addresses: a powerful and free public Earth Day kick-off by youth activist Larissa Crawford; a special co-presentation from Indigenous artists Christi Belcourt and Isaac Murdoch; and a deep-dive into climate justice with Julian Agyeman.

In addition to over 100 presenters across 70+ sessions, attendees will experience lively and unique opportunities to safely socialize with other passionate members of the EECOM community through a variety of “Nuit Verte” social events. From a vegan cooking class to a guided organic beer-tasting, this is one conference you won’t want to miss!

The best part? There’s no travel required, so you can learn and build your network while decreasing your environmental impact.

Learn more, view the schedule and speakers, and register your spot now at ecoschools.ca/eecom.


NEW English & French Webinars on Eco-Anxiety from EECOM

We have two exciting new Zoom webinars to announce from our partners at EECOM. These are about eco-anxiety and there are two offerings on two days (one in English and one in French). See below!


Nov. 30, 2020 7:00 PM (Winnipeg) – EnglishRegister in advance for this meeting: https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZYpc-ugqT4uGdSR2DWzAIQi38JmvzwCue-N

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.


2 déc. 2020 07:00 PM (Winnipeg) – Français – Veuillez vous inscrire à la date et l’heure qui vous conviennent le mieux: https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZAod–orzsoH9MZIgucUrMzd1JBJAbdcq5o

Après votre inscription, vous recevrez un e-mail de confirmation contenant les instructions pour rejoindre la réunion.


Key Findings from LSF & Lakehead University’s Climate Change Education in Canada Research Study

Special Guest Author post by Dr. Ellen Field
Photos courtesy of LSF/LU

A recent national climate change education study led by Dr. Ellen Field from Lakehead University and Learning for a Sustainable Future establishes benchmarks of Canadians’ understanding of climate change, their perspectives on climate change impacts and risks, and views on the role of schools and climate change education.

The study surveyed 3,196 Canadians including 1,231 teachers, 571 parents, 486 students in grades 7 – 12, and 908 respondents from the general public. The study also provides the first comprehensive snapshot of climate change education practices across Canada. 

The report, Canada, Climate Change, and Education: Opportunities for Public and Formal Education provides the national methodology and data and is publicly available. Alongside the national report, regional reports have been written for the Atlantic region, Ontario, and Manitoba, with others to follow. For each region, a knowledge mobilization session is coordinated in which policy makers and educational practitioners review data for the region and collaborate on sector specific climate change education action plans (these plans are publicly available: http://lsf-lst.ca/en/cc-survey).

Here are some key findings from the national data focused on Canadians’ perspectives and knowledge

  • 79% of Canadians are concerned about the impacts of climate change and 78% believe there are risks to people in Canada
  • 85% of Canadians are certain that climate change is happening
  • 43% of Canadians failed a basic climate science test
  • There is a gap between perceptions and awareness: 51% of Canadians feel they are well-informed about climate change, only 14% correctly answered 8-10 basic climate science questions
  • Only 30% of Canadians think that new technologies will solve the problem without individuals having to make big changes.
  • 57% of Canadians believe their actions have an impact on climate change and 79% indicated that, while personal actions are important, systemic change is needed to address climate change.

Here are some key findings focused on climate change education and schools:

  • 65% of Canadians and 79% of teachers think the education system should be doing more to educate young people about climate change.
  • Only ⅓ of closed-sample teachers reported teaching any climate change. Of teachers who do integrate climate change content, most teach 1-10 hours of instruction per year or semester.
  • Only 32% of closed-sample teachers feel they have the knowledge and skills to teach about climate change. Educators say they need professional development, classroom resources, current information on climate science, and curriculum policy.
  • While climate change is predominantly taught in science and social studies classes, when it is taught, 75% of closed-sample teachers and 81% of open-sample teachers believe it is the role of all teachers.

Youth as an imperative climate audience
Within the report, we chose to apply a ladder of engagement (EcoAnalytics, 2016) to the different respondent groups (teachers, students, parents, members of the general public), to help policy makers, administrators, educators, and non-profit groups have a better understanding of how Canadians perceive and engage with climate change at a broad level. The groups are analyzed according to four audiences: 

Empowered: agree climate change is happening and do think it’s caused by humans AND indicated that there are things we can do to change it.

Aware – agree climate change is happening and do think it’s caused by humans AND indicated that there is nothing that we can do to change it.

Sceptics – agree climate change is happening and do not think it’s caused by humans OR, neither agree nor disagree that climate change is happening 

Dismissivesdisagree that climate change is happening

National – Ladder of Engagement 

n=3196 (Educator OS = 1120, Educator CS = 111, Parent CS = 571, Student CS= 486, General public = 908)

Looking at the data, 46% of students in grades 7 – 12 are categorized as Aware. These students  understand that climate change is happening and that it is caused by humans but do not believe that human efforts in mitigation or adaptation will be effective. This is concerning when considering how this mindset may affect youth in terms of how they frame their future quality of life, opportunities, or possibilities. This survey provides the first benchmark of grade 7 – 12 students’ perspectives on climate change in Canada. Previously, EcoAnalytics (2016) identified youth age 18 – 34 as the largest Aware group and therefore an important group to target with education programs to shift into the Empowered segment of the ladder of engagement. 

In this critical moment, we need to not only follow through on our policy commitments but work to enact systemic change to address the crisis at hand.

For more information, click the buttons below:

A project of:

Thank you to Dr. Field, LSF and LU for sharing these exciting developments on Ecosphere.

Tell us your thoughts: should our education system be doing more to teach young people about climate change? What’s happening in your school, board, university or community to embed climate action? Share in the comments here or on Instagram by clicking on the post included below.

[In case you missed it, check our last post about Climate Action at OISE to read about what one of the largest faculties of education in Canada is doing in their community]


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