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Past event

Eco-English: exploring the subject’s potential to support sustainability and Climate Change Education, and prepare citizens of the future

This English in Education SIG conference responds to the Department for Education strategy for sustainability and climate education which perpetuates disciplinary boundaries by locating sustainability education in science, geography and citizenship in the national curriculum, without acknowledging the possibilities afforded by Arts disciplines, specifically English and language arts. This DfE framing is likely to underpin continuing disciplinary separation of approaches to sustainability education, shaping but limiting experiences of learning about climate change for young people, their understanding of it, and their conceptions of their own contributions and agency for responding to it.  

Responding to an education system which embeds disciplinary silos, this conference offers a forum for English specialists to consider how sustainability education and related pedagogies can be embedded in English education. What would changes to current curricula and practice look like, and what might comprise a truly transformative model of English for sustainability? What unique contribution to sustainability education can English make? 

These concerns are of local, national and international importance, and we hope to reflect this significance through conference contributions. The conference will open with expert input from the University of East Anglia Climate Narratives Group. There will then be four parallel strands to which we will invite contributions through a Call for Papers. These strands are: 

  1. English and the Environment: Eco-criticism, Sustainability, the Romantics and the environment, Life on Land, etc.  
  2. English for developing Change Makers: Citizenship, Philosophies of the future, what knowledge and skills should Eco-English develop in young people, and in what balance?  
  3. The where and how of Eco-English: new pedagogies for Eco-English; the sites for learning in which can make Eco-English meaningful and effective.
  4. Making climate narratives in English: what makes a climate narrative, teaching and learning the skills to author climate narratives in different modes and forms, text-making to real and urgent purposes, etc.  

The conference will close with expert input from the University of Bristol Climate Action Group.  

Abstract submissions closed on April 30th 2024. 

SIG Convenors

Profile picture of Lorna Smith
Lorna Smith, Dr

Associate Professor in Education at University of Bristol

Dr Lorna Smith is an associate professor in Education at the University of Bristol. A former Head of English, she has been involved in English initial teacher education (ITE) for 20 years and has led the secondary English PGCE course at Bristol...

Profile picture of John Gordon
John Gordon, Professor

Professor of Language Arts and Learning at University of East Anglia

I am Reader in English Education at the University of East Anglia, Norwich. I am an experienced English teacher educator, and came into teaching as a secondary-phase specialist in English and Media up to A-level. I currently lead a professional...