A comparative analysis of environment and sustainability in policy across subnational education systems

Kathleen Aikens, Marcia McKenzie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


The aim of this study was to better understand how Environmental and Sustainability Education (ESE) policy has been developed and mobilized across subnational contexts in a federated system. We undertook a comparative analysis of sustainability-specific policy and curricula documents from all Canadian provinces and territories. We identified three thematic clusters in the data; two aligned with major global ESE policy initiatives, and a third cluster centered on localized Indigenous education in a northern territory. Conclusions and implications include that the absence of globalized ESE uptake in the northern territory demonstrates localized, relevant, and appropriate policy development, which could inform future global sustainability education initiatives. In addition, with only 6 of 13 provinces and territories having specialized education policy or curricular documents focused on climate and sustainability, there is an urgent need for increased focus in these areas in responding to calls from students and communities for climate action.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)69-82
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Environmental Education
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • climate change education
  • curriculum
  • education for sustainable development
  • Education policy
  • environmental education
  • Indigenous education

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