Developing Competencies for Education for Sustainable Development: A Case Study of Canadian Faculties of Education

Laura Sims, Thomas Falkenberg


Education is paramount when trying to enable a change in values and attitudes towards sustainability. Higher education in faculties of education plays an important role in working toward this change because of its impact on future and practicing teachers in the school systems. This study inquires into the current role of education for sustainable development (ESD) in undergraduate and graduate teacher education programs at Canadian universities, with a particular focus on promising practices and initiatives toward a reorientation of teacher education for sustainability. A qualitative case study approach was used identifying promising initiatives as well as challenges and enablers of reorienting teacher education toward sustainability at four Canadian universities. The discussion of results is framed by how identified initiatives relate to the development of core ESD competences for educators as established by UNECE (2012). The results of the study suggest the importance of experiential, inter-disciplinary and inter-institutional learning, of problem-based learning around real-life issues with community and the natural environment, and of building partnerships with colleagues, students, and community organizations.

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International Journal of Higher Education
ISSN 1927-6044 (Print) ISSN 1927-6052 (Online) Email:

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