As one of the largest faculties of education in Canada – and one with a very active, multifaceted Environmental and Sustainability Education (ESE) Initiative – the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) at the University of Toronto has cultivated enormous potential to engage numerous stakeholders in taking Climate Action. But this opportunity is not without its own unique challenges – especially how to bring together the many faculty, staff and graduate students/teacher candidates to tackle Climate Action in a large-scale collaboration. Developing a whole-institution approach towards the overarching vision of establishing a Climate Action Plan for OISE – and actually putting that plan into action – requires a strong foundation. Read on to learn about the steps OISE’s community has taken in the last six months to bring about changes to begin turning this Climate Action vision into a reality.
January 2020 – Hosting the inaugural OISE Climate Action Summit
Seeing the need to implement climate action beyond a departmental level, the Curriculum, Teaching and Learning (CTL) Climate Action Working Group voted to expand their collaborative efforts by hosting the first ever OISE Climate Action Summit. Sponsored by the Dean’s Office, this half-day roundtable Summit, held on Friday, January 31, 2020, brought together over 100 participants comprised of faculty, staff, students and administrators from across the entire OISE community. Watch this short video to see what took place!
March 2020 – Reviewing and sharing high-priority ideas through the Climate Action Survey
At the Summit, the community generated many ideas across five target areas. Following the event, these ideas were organized to form a basis for OISE’s unfolding Climate Action Plan, specifically in regards to prioritizing action items that can be carried out immediately. To solicit feedback, the Climate Action Survey was sent out to all members of the OISE community to invite participants to review and respond to these ideas.
April 2020 – Earth Day announcement & call for nominees for the new Dean’s Climate Action Advisory Committee
Following the Summit and survey, a set of recommendations to enact climate action at OISE were presented to OISE’s Dean. In honour of the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, Dean Jones announced implementation of the first recommendation – to establish a new Dean’s Climate Action Advisory Committee at OISE. This Committee, chaired by the Dean and co-led by Dr. Hilary Inwood (Lead of OISE’s ESE Initiative) will assist in the development of a strategic Climate Action Plan for OISE, based on the community’s feedback from the Summit and survey. The Dean also announced embedding climate action as part of OISE’s Academic Plan and positioning OISE as a hub for ESE and climate action.
June 2020 – Formation and first meeting of the Dean’s Climate Action Advisory Committee at OISE
After the Committee was selected (see Membership below), the first meeting was held via Zoom to get members acquainted with each other and their initial tasks and goals for developing the OISE Climate Action Plan. The Plan aims to reduce OISE’s carbon footprint by better embedding sustainability into five areas of OISE’s work: 1) Policy & Governance, 2) Facilities & Operations, 3) Curriculum & Teaching, 4) Research, and 5) Community Engagement & Outreach. A team of OISE faculty, staff and grad students have been working over the summer to research and build a strong foundation and the Plan is set to be shared with the community late in the fall.
Supporting Climate Action strategic planning across faculties of education
These exciting steps signal a hopeful direction is ESE and Climate Action. OISE is the first faculty at the University of Toronto to work towards creating their own Climate Action Plan, as well as the first Faculty of Education in Canada to do so. It is hoped that sharing these steps will inspire and support others to implement a cohesive Climate Action approach in their own faculties of education. For more information and ideas on how to get started in your own faculty, check out the OISE ESE website here.
Membership of OISE Climate Action Advisory Group
The advisory group, which has been asked to develop a draft plan by the end of this year, includes the following members:
Megan Abley, Graduate Student, APHD
Julie Blair, Indigenous Education Network Coordinator
Yiola Cleovoulou, Faculty Member, APHD
Helen Huang, Chief Administrative Officer, OISE
Alysse Kennedy, Graduate Student, CTL
David Montemurro, Faculty Member, CTL
Fikile Nxumalo, Faculty Member, CTL
Sadia Rahman, Graduate Student, LHAE
John Robinson, Presidential Advisor on the Environment, Climate Change and Sustainability
Jennifer Sumner, Faculty Member, LHAE
Amanda Trigiana, Graduate Student, SJE
Jenaya Webb, Librarian, OISE Library
Terezia Zoric, Faculty Member, SJE
The work of this committee will be supported by Hilary Inwood (CTL), Iman Fouad (Dean’s Office), and graduate students who will be conducting research for the committee, including Wahaj Alam & Sunnya Khan.
We hope you enjoyed this featured update about what is happening in ESE in a Canadian Faculty of Education. Is your faculty or department taking new strides in ESE or Climate Action? Let us know in the comments what’s happening and what you think so far about these Climate Action goals!