Weaving the Threads of Sustainability into the Tapestry of Education: A Transformational Approach to Infusing Critical Elements of Environmental Education into Everyday Teaching Practice

By Zhanna Barchuk, Mary Jane Harkins and Bertram Tulk.

Published by The Sustainability Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Sustainability has emerged and matured as a significant concept in the last two decades. The World Conservation Strategy (International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, 1980 cited in Selby, 2006) is credited for using sustainable development in relation to education for the first time. In spite of the popularity of the term, its clarity and definition are still the matters of constant debates. Many and varied approaches to and understandings of education for environmental sustainability are being offered by theorists and practitioners (Dobson, 1996; Sauve, 1999; Sterling, 2001). As a result of theoretical, terminological, and conceptual complexity, many educators find it rather difficult to define, explain, and, therefore, weave the threads of environmental sustainability into practice (Selby, 2006). The quality of teachers’ understanding of the approach is extremely important for what and how they teach. This proposal is based on a qualitative study to examine Canadian pre-service Social Studies teachers’ perception of the benefits and challenges of controversial environmental issues. The findings demonstrate that controversial issues like sustainability are considered challenging but necessary for the development of responsible global citizens. The findings provide valuable insights into the importance of teaching current environmental topics and options for practical application.

Keywords: Environmental Education, Sustainability, Global Education, Teacher Education, Multidisciplinary Approaches

The International Journal of Environmental, Cultural, Economic and Social Sustainability, Volume 6, Issue 3, pp.101-110. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 625.489KB).

Zhanna Barchuk

Mount Saint Vincent University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

Zhanna Barchuk is a graduate student in Curriculum Studies at Mount Saint Vincent University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada with research interests in sustainability, globalization, global education, and teaching controversial issues. Prior to attending Mount Saint Vincent University, she was an International Baccalaureate Geography teacher at SEK International School in Quito, Ecuador.

Dr. Mary Jane Harkins

Mount Saint Vincent University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

Mary Jane Harkins is an Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Education at Mount Saint Vincent University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. Dr. Harkins teaches in both the graduate and undergraduate (Bachelor of Education) programs in the area of inclusive education and literacy education. Prior to coming to the Mount, she was a school board administrator with the Tri County Regional School Board in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia where she worked with students and teachers to promote an eco-justice approach to environmental education. Her current research interests include environmental literacy and globalization, Aboriginal studies, teacher education and university-community collaborative research.

Dr. Bertram Tulk

Mount Saint Vincent University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

Bertram Tulk has been Superintendent/CEO of the Atlantic Provinces Special Education Authority (APSEA) since 2005. He was previously Superintendent with the Labrador West School Board and Assistant Director (Programs) for both the Avalon East and Labrador School Boards in Newfoundland. Bert has a BA, a BEd and a MEd from Memorial University and a Doctorate from the University of Toronto. Dr. Tulk was President of the Atlantic Canada Connected Community (ACCC) from its formation in 2004 until 2007. He is a member of the ASCD Worldwide Influence Study Group. Since moving to Halifax, he has been an adjunct member of the Faculty of Education at Mount Saint Vincent University. Bert’s major research and teaching interests are in global education, ecological sustainability and educational change.


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