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!
Drs. Lindsay Galway, Canada Research Chair in Social and Ecological, and Helle Moller at Lakehead are working on a research project with two masters students about decisions parents go through when weighing up having children or not due to the climate crisis.
If you are interested in participating, please see the Call for Participants poster.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Dismissives – disagree 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.
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.
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 Committeeat 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!
Working as part of the EECOM family does have its advantages! We were honoured to work in partnership with the EECOM Board as they began to work on a new series of videos highlighting the work that is being done under its network. As one of its Standing Committees, our team focuses on better embedding Environmental and Sustainability Education in Teacher Education, which is a tight focus given the breadth of how environmental learning manifests in both formal and informal education settings across the country. At the EECOM 2018 conference in Cranbrook, members of the ESE-TE Committee were interviewed to help us communicate our mission and goals. The result is terrific, highlighting what our Committee is about, surrounded by the beautiful vistas of the Kootenays. If you haven’t seen it yet, catch it on our YouTube Channel! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EoI5ORCUsPw
The American Educational Research Association conference, which took place in April in Toronto, was a great time for those working on the ESE-TE team to connect, discuss their research, and share it with a broader audience. Members of the ESE-TE Standing Committee were involved in a variety of presentations, helping to advocate for a presence for ESE in all levels of education. One of these highlighted the ways that ESE can take multimodal forms in preservice teacher education, which aligned with the theme of the conference. Paul Elliott (Trent) shared the benefits and challenges of integrating ESE with Indigenous Ed in a core preservice course, while Susan Gerofsky (UBC) highlighted the critical learning that takes place in UBC’s Orchard Garden with teacher candidates. Laura Sims (St. Boniface) analyzed community-based approaches to ESE in her faculty of ed, and Hilary Inwood (OISE) discussed the impacts of creating environmental art installations with teacher candidates. This session was very well-attended (with over 60 in attendance for a Sunday morning session), demonstrating the strong interest in ESE in Teacher Ed. There is talk underway of turning this into a book….stay tuned for more!
At CSSE at the University of Regina in May, our team was honoured to be involved in a session of the Association of Canadian Dean’s of Education (ACDE) called Visioning Environmental Sustainability Education in Teacher Education. The purpose was to gather ideas for creating an Accord on ESE in Teacher Education to be accepted by the ACDE at a future meeting. This session began with some members of our ESE-TE team sharing stories of their own journey and passions for EE. Yovita Gwekwerere (Laurentian) spoke about her upbringing in Zimbabwe and her work with Greenpeace. Patrick Howard (Cape Breton) spoke of his research with youth who have been impacted by the collapse of the Cod fishery in Newfoundland. Clinton Beckford (Windsor) shared his history in Jamaica and how island nations are being directly impacted by climate change through rising water levels. Maurice DiGiuseppe (UOIT) spoke about his proximity to nuclear power stations and the relationship of our built world to sustainability. Each of these stories evoked the complexity and uncertainty of climate change, and our role as teacher educators in addressing this. This was followed by a discussion by session attendees, many of whom are Deans of Faculties of Education across Canada, as to what has been done so far and what direction should an Accord take. It was decided that a draft Accord should be presented to the next ACDE meeting, with a clear rationale for the inclusion of ESE in Teacher Education, about its connections to Indigenization, and the importance of building partnerships in communities. This Accord should also emphasize the contextualized nature of ESE, embodied through a place-based approach. Our ESE-TE team looks forward to supporting the creation of this Accord for presentation at the next ACDE meeting in late October. If you have any thoughts or insight, please contact us.
The Bachelor of Education at Cape Breton University (CBU) in Sydney, NS has recently developed a Sustainability Concentration for some of the program participants. This concentration came out of rising focus on sustainability education that works hand-in-hand with the efforts to Indigenize the curriculum. The melding of Indigenous and sustainability education came together in ways that were expected because of the many intersections of these two approaches to teaching and learning, namely through community- and place-based education.
Figure 1 – Elder Sharon Paul shares how to prepare a hide with a teacher candidate
In order to develop the four courses that represent the concentration in sustainability, the program leads, over time, connected with local First Nations communities. The Eskasoni Mi’Kmaw Nation is about 40 km outside of Sydney and Membertou Nation is in Sydney. The new program emerged in 2009, and the leads knew they wanted First Nations education included, so they reached out to the communities and created dialogue. A First Nations concentration also emerged, with the focus on language preservation – also a strong sustainability issue – so the four course concentration in FN emerged at the same time as sustainability. Both evolved and intertwined organically.