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Environmental and Sustainability Education: Building Bridges in Times of Climate Urgency

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 January 2023) | Viewed by 17445

Special Issue Editors


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Guest Editor
Associate Professor, Department of Environmental Studies, Masaryk University (MU), Faculty of Social Studies, The Czech Republic
Researcher, Technical University of Liberec, The Czech Republic
Interests: environmental and sustainability education; evaluation research, environmental literacy

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Co-Guest Editor
Assistant Professor, Faculty of Education, Jan Evangelista Purkyne University; The Czech Republic
Researcher, Department of Environmental Studies, Masaryk University (MU), The Czech Republic
Interests: environmental education, environmental literacy, research methodology

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

It is our pleasure to announce the Special Issue “Environmental and Sustainability Education: Building Bridges in Times of Climate Urgency”.

This Special Issue welcomes papers illustrating the need for cooperation among different stakeholders in the field of environmental and sustainability education (ESE). The topic is connected to the theme of the 11th World Environmental Education Congress “Building Bridges in Times of Climate Urgency”, to be held on 14–18 March 2022 in Prague, allowing synergy of our Special Issue with this event.

Closing the gaps between various stakeholders of ESE is a crucial challenge of our time, shaped by the urgency of existential threats to humankind. This Special Issue opens an opportunity for a broad range of manuscripts, including evaluation research, case studies, literature analyses, review studies, and essays.

The manuscripts are expected to discuss the metaphorical concept of a bridge between different facets in the field of environmental and sustainability education, like the practice–theory gap, the policy–practice gap, and the gap between various ESE-relevant discourses, different stakeholders, etc. For this Special Issue, we welcome manuscripts analyzing

  • how theory shapes ESE practice or how ESE practice leads to theory’s reshaping
  • how different ESE approaches influence each other to establish a new synergy,
  • what impact ESE research has on educational policy or how well-designed educational policy supports both research and practice
  • how formal and non-formal ESE initiatives support each other
  • how different stakeholders are inspired and can learn from each other in various ESE programs
  • how schools connected with their communities or schoolteachers of different specializations can learn to cooperate in ESE programs

Besides empirically oriented manuscripts, this Special Issue is open to meta-studies, literate reviews, or well-argued theoretical essays reacting to its theme.

Dr. Jan Činčera
Dr. Roman Kroufek
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2400 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • environmental and sustainability education
  • program evaluation
  • theory–research gap
  • policy– research gap

Published Papers (7 papers)

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Research

20 pages, 1637 KiB  
Article
Political Discourses as A Resource for Climate Change Education: Promoting Critical Thinking by Closing the Gap between Science Education and Political Education
by María Angélica Mejía-Cáceres, Marco Rieckmann and Monica Lopes Folena Araújo
Sustainability 2023, 15(8), 6672; https://doi.org/10.3390/su15086672 - 14 Apr 2023
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 2599
Abstract
This paper discusses political discourses as a resource for climate change education and the extent to which they can be used to promote critical thinking. To illustrate this, we present here an activity developed in the online course, Freirean Communicative Educational Situations for [...] Read more.
This paper discusses political discourses as a resource for climate change education and the extent to which they can be used to promote critical thinking. To illustrate this, we present here an activity developed in the online course, Freirean Communicative Educational Situations for Climate Change Education, designed and developed as part of postdoctoral research at the Federal Rural University of Pernambuco, Brazil. The activity aimed to analyze the speeches of the Presidents of Colombia and Chile at the United Nations Climate Action Summit (2019) in a way which approached climate change as a socio-scientific issue. We argue that climate change education should not only involve learning about risk, adaptation, resilience, and basic scientific concepts, but also critical reflection on public policy and discourses and transformative content. This includes consideration of non-formal and informal communications and analysis of how power relations can restrict, motivate, or boost the impetus towards climate change education. These kinds of classroom activities enable teachers to work with a combination of core critical thinking skills, attitudes, and abilities, as well as discussing the details of science and scientific knowledge. This in turn enables the gap between the scientific and political aspects of climate change education to be bridged. Full article
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15 pages, 978 KiB  
Article
Approaches to Bio-Cultural Diversity in British Columbia
by David Zandvliet, Shannon Leddy, Cate Inver, Victor Elderton, Brittney Townrow and Lori York
Sustainability 2023, 15(8), 6422; https://doi.org/10.3390/su15086422 - 10 Apr 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1397
Abstract
This paper highlights an action research project into some decolonizing practices for environmental learning in the Canadian context of the British Columbia (BC) curriculum through case study and focus groups with Indigenous educators. A key finding taken from these discussions is that educators [...] Read more.
This paper highlights an action research project into some decolonizing practices for environmental learning in the Canadian context of the British Columbia (BC) curriculum through case study and focus groups with Indigenous educators. A key finding taken from these discussions is that educators must strive to learn with Indigenous people not about them as the process of decolonization is about acknowledging multiple knowledge and value systems. We hosted two consultations with groups of Indigenous knowledge holders in the process of our work. The first consisted of a purposeful sample of Indigenous educators and academics drawn from Coast Salish communities in and around urban regions in coastal British Columbia (N = 20), the second draws on a purposeful sample of rural Indigenous educators and academics drawn from the Okanagan valley and British Columbia Interior (N = 10). The vignettes we share focus on how educational policy can be infused with Indigenous knowledges and pedagogical perspectives and, respectively, how policy changes might inform instruction on climate change education and a variety of other environmental topics. The revised framework we produce will guide teachers in their educational planning and support the implementation of environmental learning in diverse subjects using the dual lenses of bio-cultural diversity and inquiry—teaching about the environment and Indigenous knowledges together as an organizing theme for all teaching and learning. Our work highlights key aspects of our research involving practicing teachers, academics, provincial Ministries of Education and Environment as well as the Canadian Commission for UNESCO. The research articulates several important bridge-building activities: one linking research and policy, one bridging theory with practice, and most importantly, one bridging the inherent synergies among Indigenous and environmental knowledges. Full article
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20 pages, 595 KiB  
Article
What Triggers Climate Action: The Impact of a Climate Change Education Program on Students’ Climate Literacy and Their Willingness to Act
by Miloslav Kolenatý, Roman Kroufek and Jan Činčera
Sustainability 2022, 14(16), 10365; https://doi.org/10.3390/su141610365 - 20 Aug 2022
Cited by 20 | Viewed by 5507
Abstract
There has been an intensive debate in the field of climate change education about what predictors influence youth’s climate-related behavior and what educational strategies and practices stimulate such behavior. This study investigated the impact of the ‘CO2 League’ program which involved 47 [...] Read more.
There has been an intensive debate in the field of climate change education about what predictors influence youth’s climate-related behavior and what educational strategies and practices stimulate such behavior. This study investigated the impact of the ‘CO2 League’ program which involved 47 schools (N = 123). For the analyses, we used pre-/-post quasi-experimental design which combined quantitative and qualitative methods: an extensive pre-/-post survey for analyzing several components of students’ climate literacy (system/action/effectiveness knowledge, climate change concern, self-efficacy, willingness for climate-protective behavior) and focus group interviews. The analyses revealed a significant impact of sufficient climate change knowledge on climate change concern which subsequently positively influenced participants’ self-efficacy and their willingness to act. The findings of this study suggest that knowledge is a key initial driver for climate action, especially for young people, and confirm the conclusion of previous studies that willingness to adopt pro-climatic behavior presupposes a clear and explicit understanding of climate dynamics and its causal relations. The focus group interviews also revealed that the reported increased willingness to act often translated into actual climate action and that learning about the concept of carbon footprint and the process of calculating and decreasing it proved to be a very accessible and fast path to participants’ engagement in personal climate action. Full article
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18 pages, 1491 KiB  
Article
Closing the Gap: Potentials of ESE Distance Teaching
by Sonja T. Fiedler, Thomas Heyne and Franz X. Bogner
Sustainability 2022, 14(14), 8330; https://doi.org/10.3390/su14148330 - 07 Jul 2022
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1434
Abstract
Environmental and sustainability education (ESE) traditionally relies on green teaching environments and active participation. Thus, during the lockdown phase, a gap between curricular goals and learning outcomes appeared. This study investigates the impact of ESE distance teaching on 288 Bavarian fifth-graders and learning [...] Read more.
Environmental and sustainability education (ESE) traditionally relies on green teaching environments and active participation. Thus, during the lockdown phase, a gap between curricular goals and learning outcomes appeared. This study investigates the impact of ESE distance teaching on 288 Bavarian fifth-graders and learning factors that could bridge this gap. The influence of digital preferences on learning progress is examined and compared with the influence of fascination levels. A negative correlation between spending time outside in nature and spending time inside in front of a digital device is expected. A control group completed a learning unit about biological topics such as plant identification and environmental factors, as well as ESE topics such as characteristics of sustainable agriculture, at an out-of-school ESE center. The experimental group completed the same learning unit in distance teaching. Fascination with Biology (FBio) and Digital Nativity Assessment Scale (DNAS) were applied in addition to a customized knowledge test. Both values seem to have a positive impact on learning outcomes. There were no significant differences between the control and experimental group. Surprisingly, Fascination and Digital Nativity show a low, if not negligible, relationship. Implications for digital ESE, especially between outdoor learning centers and schools, are discussed. Full article
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13 pages, 280 KiB  
Article
Roots and Shoots: Building Bridges between Schools and Their Communities
by Jan Cincera, Zuzana Gallayova, Simona Kuciakova and Daphne Goldman
Sustainability 2021, 13(22), 12543; https://doi.org/10.3390/su132212543 - 12 Nov 2021
Viewed by 1536
Abstract
The study analyses the benefits and challenges emerging from students’ interactions with community, teachers, and other students in the place-based education program Roots and Shoots, in the Slovak Republic. The study is based on qualitative analyses of data obtained from eight teachers and [...] Read more.
The study analyses the benefits and challenges emerging from students’ interactions with community, teachers, and other students in the place-based education program Roots and Shoots, in the Slovak Republic. The study is based on qualitative analyses of data obtained from eight teachers and 56 students interviewed in eight focus groups, and on quantitative data obtained from 53 students. Both the students and the teachers perceived the Roots and Shoots program as highly successful. The implementation of the program was challenged by the necessity of dealing with different levels of the students’ participation in decision-making, tensions between the involved and uninvolved students, and the complex nature of local sustainability issues. This study discusses the importance of engaging students in the participative process of solving real-world issues, reflecting the challenges of this educational approach. Full article
15 pages, 2261 KiB  
Article
Czech Preschool Children’s Conceptions about Nature
by Kateřina Jančaříková
Sustainability 2021, 13(19), 10962; https://doi.org/10.3390/su131910962 - 02 Oct 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1726 | Correction
Abstract
This study focused on young children’s understanding of nature, an issue observed to be a research gap in the scientific community. The question “What nature?” is central to this research. Answers to this question were obtained from 342 children from 21 Czech kindergartens, [...] Read more.
This study focused on young children’s understanding of nature, an issue observed to be a research gap in the scientific community. The question “What nature?” is central to this research. Answers to this question were obtained from 342 children from 21 Czech kindergartens, and results showed 302 preschool and children (aged from 3 to 6.5 years) from the sample displayed a conceptual understanding of nature and expressed their ideas verbally. Qualitative content analysis and comparative analysis (nouns and verbs separately) were performed on the results. Most children interpreted nature through lists of objects or as a space or a concrete place, and most of the objects mentioned related to living nature. Children used verbs describing natural events more often than verbs describing their own or human activities in nature. The comparison between children’s, adults’, and pupils’ concepts of nature shows that children expressed their concepts in a similar, albeit not identical, manner to adults. They expressed the utilitarian and aesthetic value of nature, showed a scientific interest and an emotional connection to nature, and showed their joy in interacting with nature. Although certain similarities in children’s answers were noted, each child understands nature individually. Teachers should respect this fact and consider this in environmental and global education. Full article
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13 pages, 2018 KiB  
Article
Children’s Pictorial Expression of Plant Life and Its Connection with School-Based Greenness
by Ilargi Zaballa, Maria Merino and José Domingo Villarroel
Sustainability 2021, 13(9), 4999; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13094999 - 29 Apr 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1844
Abstract
Previous research highlights the positive influence that experiences in nature have on children’s physical, emotional and conceptual development. There is also evidence that indicates that the availability of green areas on school grounds is associated with pupils’ better academic performance as well as [...] Read more.
Previous research highlights the positive influence that experiences in nature have on children’s physical, emotional and conceptual development. There is also evidence that indicates that the availability of green areas on school grounds is associated with pupils’ better academic performance as well as with their comprehension of wildlife. This study examines the drawings that 152 children completed with the objective of expressing their understanding of the plant world. Approximately half of the drawings were depicted by children that attend a school with green areas within the school site as well as in the surrounding area. The remaining half of the sample includes the illustrations that children attending an educational centre with, virtually, no green areas within the school premises or in the immediate vicinity. Notwithstanding the fact that the two schools involved in the study belong to a similar social context and they are relatively close to each other, the results show relevant differences between the drawings by the two groups compared, in terms of the pictorial content and the utilisation of colour. The results are discussed in light of the growing number of studies that emphasise the positive impact that close contact with nature has on children’s everyday life at school. Full article
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