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Research Intelligence

Spring 2022

Education for environmental sustainability

Research Intelligence issue 150

This 150th issue of Research Intelligence reflects and builds upon the renewed focus on education for environmental sustainability (EfES) in the context of anthropogenic changes to the climate system, in response to the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow in November 2021. Researchers engaged with EfES argue that formalised knowledge systems, such as education, are failing humanity when seeking to respond to challenges such as climate change, but EfES is theorised and enacted in a variety of ways in different research and educational contexts.

The editors of this issue, Elizabeth Rushton and Lynda Dunlop – also responsible for the BERA Research Commission 2020–2022 which resulted in A Manifesto for Education for Environmental Sustainabilityhighlight four themes that are important in advancing research in EfES, and demonstrate the energy for collective action across sectors and generations.

Different approaches to EfES

Andrea Bullivant, Jacqueline Ayre and Amanda Smith discuss the importance of participation and co-creation in manifesto-making in the context of EfES. In their contributions, Jane Essex and Judy Ling Wong highlight the need for collaborative and inclusive approaches to EfES, and Tanesha Allen challenges white scholars to confront uncomfortable truths about the composition of the field – and what this means for the knowledge created within it.

Environmental justice

Contributions from Haira Gandolfi and Maddie Stanford explore the sociopolitical dimensions of environmental education and challenge educators to examine how environmental issues can be tackled through education in a more socially just way. They draw attention to the connection between local and global approaches, and to confronting the inequitable distribution of environmental and social justice.

Participation & activism

Climate activist Molly Hucker discusses the importance of conversations between youth and teachers, and Cyrus Nayeri describes how writing can function as a form of activism. Central to arguments from Claire Ramjan are expanded notions of environmental citizenship and activism, and Smriti Safaya considers the place of experiential learning in bridging the values–action gap in relation to environmental issues.

Collective action

Melissa Glackin highlights the need for political leadership that values education for the environment through curriculum, assessments and inspections, and Molly Hucker discusses how constructive conversations and actions in school can empower educators and young people to make changes demanded by the urgency of climate change.

Elsewhere in this issue:

  • Barbara Skinner surveys the state of educational research in Northern Ireland
  • David Egan discusses the Welsh government’s national strategy for educational research and enquiry
  • we look back at four decades and 150 issues of Research Intelligence
  • Ros McLellan discusses the status and uses of ‘grey literature’, and what BERA can and will do to elevate it
  • Oliver Hooper provides a guide to submitting high-quality proposals for BERA’s awards and opportunities for early career researchers
  • Stephen McKinney provides discusses the work of BERA’s Scottish sister organisation SERA’s Poverty and Education Network.

Guest editors

Profile picture of Elizabeth Rushton
Elizabeth Rushton, Professor

Head of Education Division at University of Stirling

Professor Elizabeth Rushton is a professor in Education and the head of the Division of Education, Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Stirling. Her research interests are in geography and science education, specifically the...

Profile picture of Lynda Dunlop
Lynda Dunlop, Dr

Senior Lecturer in Science Education at University of York

Lynda Dunlop is Director of Education for Environmental Sustainability at York, and a senior lecturer in science education. Her research is interdisciplinary, working across the social sciences, sciences and arts and humanities. Current studies...