RCE Saskatchewan-2016

1. Project Title: 
The Sustainability and Education Policy Network (SEPN): Leading Through Multi-Sector Learning
2. Thematic area/s addressed by the project
3. Project partner contact information : 
Sustainability Education Research Institute (SERI), University of Saskatchewan
Host Institution
Main Contact: 
Marcia McKenzie
Marcia McKenzie
Principal Investigator & Director, Sustainability Education Research Institute, U. of Saskatchewan
Alternative project contact: 
Nicola Chopin
Project Manager, Sustainability and Education Policy Network (SEPN)
4. Project type
5. Project description
Provide a short description of the project including strategies, regional challenges, aims and specific project activities.: 

Climate change, new environmental technologies, and energy and water sustainability are not only technical issues—they are cultural and political challenges that require integrated solutions and well-informed and motivated citizens. SEPN is a 6-year, $2 million dollar Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) Partnership Grant with $1 million in matching funds, led by Principal Investigator and SERI Director, Dr. Marcia McKenzie. SEPN is a collaborative partnership between academic research institutions and national/international organizations. Partnering and contributing organizations include the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, David Suzuki Foundation, Learning for a Sustainable Future, and Sierra Youth Coalition.

SEPN is examining existing policies, practices, and innovations in
curriculum, research, facilities operations, governance, and community outreach in early childhood education to Grade 12 and post-secondary education (PSE). SEPN is organized into three iterative Themes:

  • Theme 1. Document Analysis examines existing policy to understand how current educational policy is engaging with sustainability issues as well as existing sustainability policy discourse in education across provincial Ministries of Education, Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (AANDC), and a range of PSE institutions
  • Theme 2. Community Engagement examines practices and experience of sustainability in education through community engagement across multiple sectors. Work involves (1) a national survey and (2) in-depth site analyses, both of which will offer situated community understandings of sustainability uptake in education, informing our understanding of relationships between sustainability policy and practice in the Canadian education system
  • Theme 3. Knowledge Mobilization mobilizes new knowledge and best practices regarding sustainability in education to impact existing policy and practice. This theme tracks organizational learning within SEPN, develops situated models of exemplary sustainability policy and practice, and mobilizes models through engagement of educational institutions and communities to impact policy and practice across the country

SEPN’s overarching objective is to examine and enable the evolution of sustainability policy and practice in Canadian EC-12 and PSE education and has three goals:

1. Acknowledging and embracing the key role of education in creating a sustainable future. With dwindling natural resources, a burgeoning world population, and health concerns tied to pollution and climate change, sustainability is one of today’s most pressing global issues. Our sustainability issues are not just technical problems; they are cultural and political challenges. Implementing solutions requires Canadians to be informed about environmental issues and motivated to make change. SEPN is developing models to improve how sustainability is taught and practiced in educational institutions within Canada and around the world.

2. Coordinating research on sustainability policy in education which is currently scarce, uncoordinated, and regional. Canada’s education system is highly decentralized, which discourages research that compares different provinces and communities. SEPN is the first large-scale research collaboration in Canada to collect and analyze comparable data across the country with the aim of supporting educational policy decision-making.

3. Collaborating across regions, communities, and sectors to ground sustainability policy development. Consulting communities during policy development and examining communities’ experiences provides the best chance for developing effective sustainability policy and practice. SEPN’s partnership approach leverages its stakeholders’ expertise to create new knowledge and practical tools to support decision-making at all levels of education and across sectors.

In exploring the gap between existing policy and practice, SEPN is working to develop models to improve how environmental sustainability is taught and practiced in educational institutions within Canada and around the world.

SEPN’s research will culminate in the development of models of promising policies, practices, and innovations for enabling educational change for a more sustainable future.

6. Project status
On Going
SEPN is in the process of completing data collection for its Site Analyses research. Integrative analysis of data collected throughout the project will take place in the 2016-2017 academic year. Extensive knowledge mobilization will be carried out in 2017-2018, during which time SEPN’s research results will be shared with a variety of stakeholders across the formal Canadian education system.
8. Tagging