SP0144: Training Teachers for Sustainability

Status: COMPLETED Summer 2015 - June 2016

The Training Teachers for Sustainability project aims to enhance McGill Education students’ understanding and competencies related to Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) - deepening their knowledge, skills, and pedagogical competencies in relation to sustainability.

Read the full project description

One of the major goals of the Office of Sustainability at McGill University is to contribute towards a “creating a future where both people and the planet can flourish” (Vision 2020: A sustainability strategy for McGill University, 2010, p.4). One of the best ways for McGill to lead the efforts to develop a sustainable culture is to educate teachers who will, in turn, educate the next generation of community members and leaders. Thus, this project aims to enhance McGill Education students’ understanding and competencies related to Education for Sustainable Development (ESD).

This project will deepen teachers’ knowledge, skills, and pedagogical competencies in relation to sustainability. To this end, a set of benchmarks focusing on teachers’ competencies related to education for sustainable development will be developed. Drawing on these benchmarks, a set of professional development workshops will be designed and implemented for pre-service and in-service teachers of the Faculty of Education. These workshops will engage teachers in actively exploring complex sustainability issues in local communities. In addition, they will develop teaching and learning materials for K-12 students about sustainability. According to the Canadian Council of Education Ministers (Conseil des ministres de l'Éducation du Canada [CMEC], 2012), it is important to prepare teachers to respond to the global discourses on education for sustainable development because they are at the forefront of shaping the knowledge, skills, attitudes, and behaviours of our future generations through education. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s report (UNESCO, 2005) on teacher education emphasizes a meaningful transformation in teachers’ own behaviours and professional practices in regards to sustainability.

A recent international survey on sustainable lifestyle conducted by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) (2011) shows that undergraduate students in Montreal tend to care more about “space and a better quality of life” to create a sustainable future. Particularly, the 178 participants who represented undergraduate students from Montreal area in this report were primarily from Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM) and Concordia University; there were no participants from McGill University. This study will be conducted as part of the SPF project, in order to understand McGill students’ perceptions of sustainability and its role in education, and would be the first to examine education students’ knowledge, attitudes, values, and choices concerning sustainability.

The project will be conducted at McGill University from 2015 to 2017. Specific project details are described as follow:

In phase 1, a critical review of the relevant literature will be conducted to identify the requisite concepts, skills, and competencies that teachers need to develop in order to create effective learning environments for teaching and learning sustainability.

In Phase 2, a survey will be developed by adapting existing instruments to explore pre-service and in-service teachers’ initial understandings of sustainability.

In Phase 3, the survey will be piloted, refined, and administrated to all Bachelor of Education (B.Ed.) students at the Education Faculty.

In Phase 4, a set of professional development workshops (approximately 3-4 workshops) will be developed based on the survey findings.

In Phase 5, all the workshop materials and collaborative work (e.g., presentations and lesson plans, etc.) will be shared through an online blog SusED@McGill: Sustainability Education at McGill (http://sus-ed-mcgill.blogspot.ca) developed by Professor Anila Asghar and her team for other educators.

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Faculty of Education


ying.huang6 [at] mail.mcgill.ca (Ying Syuan Huang)

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