Environmental sustainability and environmental justice: From buzzwords to emancipatory pro-environmental behaviour change

By Mary Breunig

Environmental sustainability and justice and experiential education are present-day “buzzwords.” This case study of one secondary school Environmental Studies Program in Ontario, Canada problematizes the assumption that environmental knowledge(s), one form of experiential education, automatically leads to students acting pro-environmentally, querying: 1) how does environmental education impact secondary school students’ pro-environmental behaviours?; 2) to what extent does environmental knowledge inform environmental actions? Four primary themes emerged in one case study: a) strong sense of community; b) the evolving mission/vision in the program; c) the teacher’s evolving pedagogical praxis; and d) an increase in activist leanings in students. The role of the teacher on student learning, a discussion of emancipatory environmental actions, and educational policy implications are discussed.

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