Special Issue "Developing (Transformative) Environmental and Sustainability Education in Classroom Practice"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Sustainable Education and Approaches".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 August 2021).

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Dr. Nicola Walshe
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Curriculum, Pedagogy and Assessment, UCL Institute of Education, London WC1H 0AL, UK
Interests: environmental and sustainability education; arts-based pedagogies; the intersection between art, nature and wellbeing; geography education; initial teacher education
Dr. Louise Sund
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
School of Humanities, Education and Social Sciences, Örebro University, S-70182 Örebro, Sweden
Interests: environmental and sustainability education; ethical and democratic perspectives on education; the intersection between environmental and sustainability education and global citizenship education; postcolonial theory and decolonial engagements in education

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Children today face significant challenges in response to living in a globalised world and the impact of environmental threats to the planet, for example climate change, rising inequalities, and food and water security; as such, there is an increasing need for schools to have a global rather than merely local perspective and to cultivate in students a critical sense of environmental and social responsibility. Environmental and Sustainability Education (ESE) in schools is frequently promoted as a route to achieving this as it has the potential to empower learners to ‘develop the necessary knowledge, understanding, skills, values, capabilities and dispositions to respond to the complex socio-ecological issues of the 21st century’ (Australian Research Institute for Environment and Sustainability, 2009, 3). UNESCO extend this, suggesting ESE has the capacity ‘to revisit assumption, world views and power relations in mainstream discourses and consider people / groups that are systematically underrepresented / marginalised’ (2014, 16). However, despite this significant potential, there remains a general lack of pedagogical consensus as to how to teach either about or for ESE within school contexts.

In order to develop effective ESE pedagogies, some educators look to transformative learning theory to encourage learners to move beyond simple acquisition of knowledge to a change in world-view which not only affects their deeper level of understanding but, importantly for ESE, a change in their behaviour. With this in mind, the purpose of this special issue is to explore the pedagogy and practice of ESE in schools, with a particular focus on transformative pedagogies. Themes may include (but are not limited to):

  • The potential for different pedagogical approaches to support transformative learning for ESE.
  • The mechanisms or processes which engender transformative learning within ESE.
  • The intersection between ESE and global citizenship education.
  • The impact of arts-based approaches on the development of childrens’ understandings, skills, values, capabilities and dispositions around ESE.
  • The extent to which teachers’ understandings and dispositions around ESE impacts pedagogical approaches in the classroom.
  • ESE pedagogies for early years and primary school settings.
  • Postcolonial and decolonial pedagogies for ESE.
  • Posthumanist or new materialist pedagogies for ESE.

References

Australian Research Institute for Environment and Sustainability (ARIES). 2009. Education for Sustainability: The Role of Education in Engaging and Equipping People for Change. http://aries.mq.edu.au/publications/aries/efs_brochure.

UNESCO. 2014. Global Citizenship Education: Preparing learners for the challenges of the twenty-first century. http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0022/002277/227729E.pdf

Prof. Dr. Nicola Walshe
Dr. Louise Sund
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 papers will be 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 1900 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 (ESE)
  • transformative education
  • pedagogy and practice
  • schools
  • teacher education
  • curricula
  • global citizenship education

Published Papers (4 papers)

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Research

Article
More Than Two Decades of Research on Selective Traditions in Environmental and Sustainability Education—Seven Functions of the Concept
Sustainability 2021, 13(12), 6524; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13126524 - 08 Jun 2021
Viewed by 556
Abstract
This study investigates functions of the concept of selective traditions by means of a qualitative systematic review synthesis of earlier research. The study is based on a review method for integrating qualitative studies and looks for “themes” in or across them. In this [...] Read more.
This study investigates functions of the concept of selective traditions by means of a qualitative systematic review synthesis of earlier research. The study is based on a review method for integrating qualitative studies and looks for “themes” in or across them. In this case, it is about how the identified publications (twenty-four in total) use the concept of selective traditions. All but two studies stem from the Swedish context. The selective traditions relate to teachers’ approaches to the content, methods and purposes of environmental and sustainability education (ESE). Teachers mainly work within one specific selective tradition. Seven different functions were found in the publications of which five are claimed to be valuable for the development of ESE teaching, while the other two functions are useful in monitoring changes and development in ESE teaching. The results are discussed in terms of the consequences for research, practice and teacher education aiming at offering suggestions on how to develop future (transformative) ESE teaching. Full article
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Article
Building Teacher Identity in Environmental and Sustainability Education: The Perspectives of Preservice Secondary School Geography Teachers
Sustainability 2021, 13(9), 5321; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13095321 - 10 May 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1229
Abstract
Geography teachers have an important role within environmental education and, in England, are developing their professional identities at a time when environmental education is contested. This study considers the experiences of five trainee secondary school geography teachers who are all part of a [...] Read more.
Geography teachers have an important role within environmental education and, in England, are developing their professional identities at a time when environmental education is contested. This study considers the experiences of five trainee secondary school geography teachers who are all part of a university-based teacher education programme rooted in an environmental justice approach. Data is drawn from three interviews with each of five individuals over the course of their training (15 interviews in total) and participants’ written reflections. Findings include (1) teachers draw on a range of approaches to implement Environmental and Sustainability Education (ESE), (2) teachers share and value their own and their students’ stories of and personal connections with the environment and (3) teachers seek to enable young people to bring about change to their lives and communities. The contested nature of foregrounding ESE in the geography classroom is noted, as are the tensions and emotional load that teachers experience when seeking to develop their professional identity. Reflections are shared regarding the ways in which PGCE programmes provide teachers with opportunities to build ESE identities, in particular the role of semi-structured, reflexive interviews in providing an important space for identity work that could be usefully considered within the broader context of the newly implemented Early Career Teacher framework for England. Full article
Article
What Makes Environmental and Sustainability Education Transformative: A Re-Appraisal of the Conceptual Parameters
Sustainability 2021, 13(9), 5100; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13095100 - 01 May 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 601
Abstract
As with all educational policy and practice, Environmental and Sustainability Education, if it is to be effective and meaningful, has to be designed and implemented in ways that reflect twenty-first-century circumstances, which are characterized by a globalized society in which cultural diversities amongst [...] Read more.
As with all educational policy and practice, Environmental and Sustainability Education, if it is to be effective and meaningful, has to be designed and implemented in ways that reflect twenty-first-century circumstances, which are characterized by a globalized society in which cultural diversities amongst individuals and populations have become increasingly more complex and prominent. Using a conceptual and philosophical analysis of the research and policy literature, this paper contends that current ESE tends to be trapped within a restrictive monocultural definition of sustainability that does not reflect the different cultural perspectives towards sustainability that exist across global populations as a whole. It further argues that if ESE is to become truly transformative for students, ESE teachers need to develop a transcultural capacity as part of their professional expertise, one that is more aligned with the reality of a more culturally diverse population and student body. Only then can transformative and effective ESE pedagogies be developed that relate more closely to the socio-political context in which students of today will live. Full article
Article
A Didactic Model of Sustainability Commitment
Sustainability 2021, 13(6), 3083; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13063083 - 11 Mar 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 890
Abstract
This article proposes a model that describes and frames sustainability commitment. The model is based on didactic theory and pragmatic philosophy and is informed by several empirical studies on environmental and sustainability education (ESE) practice. The intention is for the model to serve [...] Read more.
This article proposes a model that describes and frames sustainability commitment. The model is based on didactic theory and pragmatic philosophy and is informed by several empirical studies on environmental and sustainability education (ESE) practice. The intention is for the model to serve as a critical perspective on ESE practices in secondary and upper secondary schools, and to offer a framework for the development of future practice with emphasis on teachers’ choices of content and teaching methods. The model suggests that a sound commitment is situated in the intersection of the intellectual, emotional, and practical aspects of sustainability. It is argued that: The intellectual aspect is essential for giving the commitment scientific rigor and a critical stance; emotions are vital for students to become dedicated; and skills to carry out appropriate actions for change is necessary for playing an active role in providing a sustainable transformation of society. Full article
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