A Critical Policy Analysis of Environmental and Sustainability Education in Canada
Despite calls to re-orient school systems toward sustainability, there has been uneven progress toward mainstreaming of Environmental and Sustainability Education (ESE) into Kindergarten-Grade 12 (K-12) schooling. This doctoral dissertation examines the state of ESE policy research internationally, as well as policy and practice in ESE in the Canadian K-12 public schooling system. The research falls under the umbrella of critical comparative policy studies, with theoretical and methodological approaches derived from both policy mobilities and policy enactment research. Each manuscript chapter is animated by a different analytic framework; in chapter 2, we use a systematic review to critically assess the status of policy research within the international field of ESE; in chapter 3, we employ a policy mobilities framework to textual analysis of provincial ESE policies; and in chapter 4, I focus on policy enactment in four schools within the province of Manitoba. Findings in Chapter 2, a systematic review of policy research, provide impetus for the subsequent two manuscripts: the empirical foundation of policy research in ESE was found to be limited; there existed no comparative studies of ESE policy within Canada; and most studies focused on classroom implementation of curriculum. Chapter 3 examined the mobilization of international ESE policy across six provincial and territorial ministries of education in Canada. We documented three distinct policy clusters in provincial ESE policy, related to sustainable development, environmental education, and Indigenous education, each emphasizing different foci and different relationships to a global ESD assemblage. Chapter 4 used comparative case study analysis to examine ESD policy enactment in four schools within the province of Manitoba. I focused on the relationship between actors and their material contexts, including school buildings and school grounds, to explore how particular ESD policy enactments are produced in specific places. This chapter examined policy enactment in relation to a provincial eco-certification program, which functioned as a policy apparatus through an encouragement and rewards model. Chapter 4 highlights the role of “relational” leadership, which is distributed amongst different school-based actors and reliant on material infrastructures. Overall, this dissertation provides critical foundational research with respect to a) the status of ESE policy research internationally; and b) ESE policy mandates across Canadian provinces and their enactment trajectories.
Environmental education, education policy, Education for Sustainable Development, Comparative case study, Systematic review
Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
School of Environment and Sustainability
Environment and Sustainability