Research Roundtable in Environmental and Sustainability Education in Teacher Education

The Research Roundtable ESE-TE will take place as a pre-conference event on Thursday, October 18, 2018 from 1:00pm-5:00pm Mountain Time at St. Eugene Mission Resort in SE BC (conference venue). This half day session will be hosted by the ESE-TE Standing Committee of EECOM. Brief proposals will be accepted on any aspect of preservice/inservice/graduate ESE-TE scholarship, theory, or practice for this Roundtable.

The following scholars and educators will be presenting short presentations on a wide variety of topics related to Environmental and Sustainability Education in Teacher Education (ESE-TE).


Kathleen Aikens & Naomi Maina, University of Saskatchewan
Introducing the Sustainability and Education Policy Network
The Sustainability and Education Policy Network (SEPN) is a collaborative partnership between academic institutions and non-profit organizations working to examine and enable the evolution of education policy and practice in K-12 and higher education contexts in relation to sustainability. SEPN has conducted a large-scale, pan-Canadian research project by examining policies, practices, and innovations in sustainability education related to whole school sustainability through governance, operations, curriculum and teaching, research, and community outreach. This presentation will highlight key findings to offer insights on how, where, and what kinds of sustainability transformations are taking place within schools.

Chris Beeman, Brandon University                         
Limits of Environmental and Sustainability Education
This presentation explores what is currently not possible in ESE in our respective teacher education programs in Manitoba, and what is perhaps theoretically incommensurable with systems of public education, at least not while this (neo-liberal dominated anthropocene) era lasts. This topic is approached from the perspectives of Indigenous views of knowledge and new materialisms.

Lee Anne Block, University of Winnipeg
Planting a Healing Forest
This presentation focuses on the concept and place of The Healing Forest, a living memorial to Indigenous children lost to or affected by the residential school system. The researchers present a curriculum emerging from existing Manitoba documents but aligned to individual school values, student groups and teacher interests, a living curriculum connected to Indigenous worldviews and focused on history from multiple perspectives, on ecology and on sustainability, through place-based practice.

Marcelo Borges and Janet McVittie, University of Saskatchewan
The place of places, landscapes, and territories in the teaching-learning of science and environmental education: Perspectives from Brazil/Canada and/in teacher education in times of sustainability
The study addresses the relationship between the concepts of place, landscape, and territory, as well as the sustainability experiences within teacher education in Brazil (Federal University of Santa Catarina) and Canada (University of Saskatchewan). Drawing on new materialism as the theoretical approach, we will examine two distinct situations and analyze both contexts of theory and practice in teacher education, focusing on and applying the political-pedagogical-methodological consequences emerging from new materialism to the field of science education and environmental education.

Maurice DiGiuseppe, University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT)                          
School Gardens Promoting Hopeful Learning for Special Needs Students
This study explores the experiences of eighth-grade special needs students engaged in vegetable garden-based learning activities at Acorn School (pseudonym) in Ontario, Canada. Research questions included: how do garden-based activities address provincial curriculum expectations and the development of 21st century skills such as critical thinking, collaboration, flexibility, and self-direction?; and, how are gardens helping students learn about environmental sustainability, stewardship, and respect for life?

Paul Elliott and Nicole Bell, Trent University
Introducing teacher candidates to Indigenous, environmental and sustainability education: Experiences with an integrated inquiry-based approach
Two themes that have often been neglected in initial teacher education are Canada’s relationship with its Indigenous peoples and the need for better environmental and sustainability education. In our revised B.Ed. program, we considered how to develop a course to engage and educate all teacher candidates, irrespective of the grades they planned to teach, or their teachable subjects. As colleagues, one with expertise in Indigenous education and the other in environmental and sustainability education, we will discuss our curricular planning process, which emphasized inquiry-based learning, as well as the first year of delivery of the course.

Gerald  Fallon, University of British Columbia
Conceptions of sustainability within the K-12 Curriculum Policy in British Columbia: Mapping a disputed terrain
This presentation of a policy study provides to educators and curriculum writers a critical account of the diversity and contestability of the conceptions of sustainability embedded into the policies and processes related to the transformation of K-12 curriculum in British Columbia. We examine the different conceptions of sustainability within the context of distinctive socio-cultural paradigms. Key questions include: in what socio-cultural paradigm is the dominant conception of sustainability grounded in new K-12 curriculum policy in B.C., and in which ways does that paradigm question the dominant industrial notion of modernity and development?

Robin Hethey, Vancouver Island University
Bees at School?  Apiary-based learning supports cross-curricular, experiential learning opportunities
In response to concerns about bees’ health, pollination levels and the increasing popularity of beekeeping, municipalities across Canada are amending their bylaws to allow urban beekeeping.  Similarly, schools across North America are embracing beekeeping as a living systems model that supports vibrant and dynamic learning opportunities.  To ensure that schools are staffed with educators who are supportive and certified as beekeepers, pre-service training programs could include a standard beekeeping course to support the development of apiary-based learning and as a place-based approach to increase environmental literacy and the cultivation of land stewardship.

Patrick Howard, Cape Breton University
Connecting ESE and online teacher education
Early Indicators and Impacts of the M.Ed.(SCI) at CBU: The Masters of Education in Sustainability, Creativity, and Innovation at CBU was launched in 2015. An overarching goal is to provide educators with the skills, knowledge, and competencies to be sustainability leaders and change agents in their schools, organizations, and communities. This online program could support teachers and other educators in the creation and implementation of applied sustainability education projects and original research in their own settings. I will share a sampling of the projects and research undertaken to date in the M.Ed. (SCI), and summarize the impact according to the evidence along with challenges thus far.

Hilary Inwood, OISE, Rob Vanwynsberghe, UBC, and Patrick Robertson, UBC
Developing teacher capacity in Environmental and Sustainability Education through pre-service cohorts
This session explores the potential of developing capacity and leadership in community-based cohorts focused on ESE in Canadian faculties of education. What are the benefits and challenges of these cohorts focused on environmental learning, and what are the ramifications of the planning and implementation processes in faculties of education?  This presentation critically examines the potential of connecting pre-service teacher education programs, K-12 classrooms, and community-based learning through a cohort model, and tracks how they are impacting teacher candidates’ ESE learning.

Hilary Inwood, OISE, University of Toronto
Innovative university/school board collaborations in ESE in teacher education
OISE’s Teacher Education programs have begun an innovative collaboration with the Toronto District School Board’s EcoSchools Program to support professional development in Environmental & Sustainability Education for both teacher candidates and practicing teachers.  Both groups are participating in integrated learning events, along with an annual conference and EcoFair; the collaboration also supports Action Research projects in K-12 classrooms, aiming to cultivate promising practices in ESE across the school board.  A 3 year research study has begun to track the successes and challenges of this collaboration.  As no similar program on this scale exists in North America, this presentation will provide an overview of the key elements of this innovative project.

Joe Kadi, University of Calgary
Ecofeminism, pedagogy, and praxis
This presentation will focus on a teaching a five-day experiential class on ecofeminism. In designing and teaching this class, there were two major goals: first, to offer students outdoor experiential education, with insight into the many strands of ecofeminism; and second, to strengthen critical/holistic thinking skills. The presentation considers the ways outdoor work connects with students’ ability to grasp the import of key course authors, and discusses whether Nature ID walks influenced students’ ability to retain critical information about the Green Belt Movement and the Navdanya Earth Democracy group.

Douglas Karrow, Brock University and Maurice DiGiuseppe, University of Ontario Institute of Technology
Situating Canadian research on Environmental and Sustainability Education in teacher education within the international scene
This presentation examines Canadian Environmental and Sustainability Education in Pre-Service Teacher Education (ESE-PTE) in relation to international ESE-PTE by considering a recent international study examining approaches to embedding ESE in teacher education structured by five themes: programmatic approaches, rationales, theoretical frames, pedagogical approaches, and problems and/or challenges faced by teacher educators seeking to embed ESE into PTE. Cross-comparative analysis of research and secondary K-12 curricular/policy sources reveal adequate provisions and yet significant gaps in rationale to integrate ESE into their courses and programmes.

Kent Lewarne, South Central Eco Institute Riverwatch Program
Riverwatch in Manitoba
This presentation shares one study on students’ experience with outdoor education in Manitoba, which had students collecting and analyzing river water samples.  Students’ data was uploaded to and available on the Riverwatch website; collecting data since 2009, SCEI is now partnering with nine conservation districts and approaching 1000 data sets. The collaborative model of schools and conservation districts has allowed our students to make connections and explore career opportunities in watershed related fields.

Michelle Martin, Lakehead University & Learning for a Sustainable Future
Climate change education in Canada in 2018
We present findings of a national Climate Change Education survey conducted in the spring of 2018. The survey establishes baseline levels of understanding of climate change among teacher educators, general public, students (12- 18 years of age) and parents from across the country. We consider teachers’ knowledge and understanding of climate change, as well as their professional views on the relevance of climate change education and curricula alignment. Recommendations for policy and practices to address identified gaps are highlighted.

Janet McVittie, Laurie-Ann Hellsten-Bzovey, Dianne Miller and Geoff Webber, University of Saskatchewan
Exemplars of place-based education in Canadian teacher education
Despite place-based education’s (PBE) demonstrable success in K-12 student engagement and community revitalization, its philosophy and practice are little known in teacher education.  Drawing on survey data and interviews with identified champions of PBE across five Canadian provinces, this presentation offers diverse examples of place-based initiatives in teacher education throughout the country. Our study reveals the potential to align with Indigenous ways of knowing and living based in relationship, place, and time.  We attend to the promise and common challenges of widespread implementation of PBE with the goal of animating further momentum in bringing PBE to teacher education.

Barbara Mills Wotherspoon, University of Saskatchewan
Connection to the world of nature: An Rx for anxiety
What can we as educators do to combat the growing disconnection of humans from nature? As an instructor of pre-service teachers in a class called Pedagogies of Place, I have created a term-long assignment called OSM (One Square Metre). Teacher candidates are asked to find a special place in nature and visit it several times during the term to fully experience the space and to hone their awareness of the life that exists within it, without any pressure to “produce” something at the end. I share an anthology that my students have created to illustrate the benefits of the OSM.

Michele A. Sam, ʔaq’am Community (formerly known as St Mary’s Indian Band)
Pre-Engagement ethics for research with Indigenous Peoples
In governance through ethics, research with Indigenous Peoples relegates us as vulnerable populations with very little dialogue regarding our vision, or outcomes we seek for our people, as cultural continuity. Therefore, research is conducted that may appear “ethical” by institutional “research ethics board” standards, but that does not meet Indigenous peoples and organizations needs or include the application of local natural law and knowledge relationships. This presentation focuses upon the local experiences of one community, ʔaq’am, a reserve and member of the Ktunaxa Nation,  in revitalizing its knowledge relationships to support overall self-development including partnerships, guided by the desire to transform relationships and ensure that research developed does so in meaningful ways to support cultural continuity; good governance; nation rebuilding; restoration of peoplehood; and resurgence of stewardship for lands and waters of Indigenous peoples now and into the future.

Laura Sims and Madeleine Asselin, Université de St. Boniface
Verifying the efficacy of “promising practices” in education-for-sustainability in teacher education: Results from an action research project 
Over the past 5 years, in our Social Studies (secondary) and Science (elementary and secondary) curriculum and instruction courses, environmental and sustainability education concepts have purposefully been integrated, taught, modelled and practiced. The purpose of this presentation is to share initial results from an action research project evaluating the effectiveness of these approaches. For this research project, former students (who are now teaching) were interviewed to understand better what they had learnt with respect to ESE pedagogy and content through the courses and what had facilitated that learning.

Laura Sims and Marie-Elaine Desmarais , Université de St. Boniface
Planning to overcome perceived barriers: Using the principles of universal design for learning to reflect upon environmental and sustainability education, inclusion, and accessibility
Meaningfully integrating environmental and sustainability education (ESE) approaches for diverse needs can seem daunting. As such, the purpose of this presentation is to reflect upon how to help pre-service teachers to plan for inclusive ESE strategies. We explore how the principles of a universal design for learning (UDL) can help pre-service teachers learn how to overcome perceived barriers, adapting an ESE learning approach to enable students’ inherent strengths, gifts, and potential to shine. We share potential benefits and implications for faculties of education, schools and policy when applying these principles. 

Astrid  Steele, Schulich School of Education, Nipissing University
Exploring Environmental Education through Learning Stories
Learning Stories are a way to describe and assess student learning for both primary and higher education. As a final assessment in a B.Ed course called “Environmental Education Across the Curriculum”, teacher candidates were tasked with creating a personal Learning Story with certain criteria.  Initially met with resistance, with discussion and support they created Learning Story posters, which provide insight into their individual interests, passions, emotions, and thinking trajectories in the many aspects of environmental education (EE). Using exemplars, this presentation discusses the utility of Learning Stories in EE learning and considers students’ futures as EE educators.

Robert Vanwynsberghe, University of British Columbia
Knowledge mobilization in Environmental and Sustainability Education
As a delegate of the National Roundtable in Environmental and Sustainability Education in Teacher Education in 2016, it was apparent that there are many educators, researchers and activists who would like to share notable resources, such as peer-reviewed papers. This interactive session will be an exchange process for sharing key ESE-TE resources. The process involves each participant saying a few words about their resources, and providing time for a brief discussion on ones that seem relevant.

Lenore  Wineberg, University of Wisconsin Oshkosh
Nature Journals: A vehicle for transformation of practice in early childhood settings
This study looks at early childhood pre-service teachers’ understanding of science integration outdoors across content areas.  It investigates the study’s research questions: can a nature journal transform pre-service teacher’s views on the importance of integrating outdoor science activities with other content areas? And how does reflecting on hands-on outdoor science activities impact how they view the outdoors as a place to plan their curriculum? Early childhood pre-service teachers enrolled in a creative curriculum class integrated with a practicum participated in this study.

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