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Students' voices and experiences with action projects for sustainable development



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The United Nations General Assembly recognized the years from 2005 to 2014 as the United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (DESD). Students’ perspectives on education for sustainable development and student perceptions on action projects for sustainable development are almost absent from the literature. This thesis presents an analysis of students’ voices and experiences as a result of Youth Forum 2008 (a forum proposed to support high school students as action leaders in sustainability projects) in three different case locations. The study attempts to understand students’ challenges with their action projects, examining them in the context of dominant discourses and explores supports that can be put into place to facilitate students’ navigation toward their goals of completing successful action projects for sustainable development. This qualitative study was composed of a series of focus group recorded conversations with ten high school student participants involved in three different school sites who all attempted to complete action projects for sustainable development. Many themes were identified: time, whether projects were extracurricular or curricular, school community, teacher, teacher education, marks/evaluation, community engagement, youth forum and technology. In the examination and interpretation many attractions and distractions for the student participants were identified. By interpreting the students’ experiences through the language of the students, a deeper understanding of the dominant discourses of schools and society and how they might limit the students highlights broader ideas about students’ struggles and triumphs in education and with teaching. In the conclusion, I suggest recommendations and I also suggest further avenues for research.



community action, transformative learning, action projects, dominant discourse, education for sustainable development, students' voices, sustainability, multi site case study, teacher education



Master of Education (M.Ed.)


Curriculum Studies


Curriculum Studies


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