A Critical Analysis of Sustainability Education in Schooling’s Bureaucracy: Barriers and Small Openings in Teacher Education

Published: 
Fall, 2010

Source: Teacher Education Quarterly, Vol. 37, No. 4, Education and the Environment, (Fall 2010), p. 139-154.

(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

In this article, the author reflects on his last 15 years of experience as an environmental education researcher and teacher education faculty member.
Through the personal reflections of narrative inquiry, the author observes and interprets the changes he has witnessed and participated in at the state, university, college, and department level, and also on the bureaucratic forces that make more sweeping change unlikely in the short term.

The author discusses several entry points into the work of sustainability education including: course experimentation and revision, cultural changes at the department and college level, and policy changes around teacher education requirements at the state level.
These entry points describe significant changes in the author's experience of teacher education in his state and university.

These changes also are related to larger state and national initiatives around environmental education and to a changing cultural attitude toward environmental issues in the age of climate change and peak oil.

Conclusion: Can Government Schools Teach Sustainability?

There are organizations which promote policies and practices in universities and schools that are more responsive to the needs of the human and non-human environment.
States such as Washington have begun to require new sustainability standards and offer new teaching endorsements in Environmental and Sustainability Education.

Teacher education is constantly changing, usually in response to political wrangling around accountability and achievement.

Therefore, the constant state of change can be viewed as an opportunity to make strategic political interventions that begin to put sustainability on the teacher education map.

The author argues that such changes can begin with sustainability-responsive course revisions, and can connect to more significant changes in college and state programs and policies.
Teacher educators interested in joining this movement can start networking and organizing with colleagues as well as the many professional educational organizations committed to a sustainable and just future.

Updated: Mar. 12, 2012
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