This portion of the research involves compiling and analyzing existing documents and empirical data sets to examine policy dynamics in Kindergarten-Grade 12 (K-12) and Post-secondary Education (PSE) in relation to sustainability issues.
- Examine non-sustainability-specific and sustainability-specific policy to better understand how ministries of education and school divisions (K-12), post-secondary institutions (PSE), and Indigenous Education contexts are engaging with sustainability
- Reporting on controversial issues in sustainability in formal education, including PSE fossil fuel divestment and K-12 eco-certifications research, which arose in response to current events and heavy media focus
Sustainability Census of Canadian Ministries of Education and School Divisions
Educational institutions are a critical venue for teaching and motivating students to understand and act on sustainability issues. In Canada, provincial or territorial ministries of education, working with local school divisions, are responsible for the organization, delivery, and assessment of K-12 education.
To date, there has been little study of the inclusion of sustainability in education across Canada at the ministry of education or school division levels. To address this research gap, SEPN-Canada conducted a nation-wide census to examine sustainability uptake in the policies of all 13 provincial and territorial ministries of education and all 374 K-12 school divisions across Canada.
The research team collected policies, strategic plans, overarching curriculum guides/frameworks, and annual reports for all ministries of education and school divisions. Five sustainability domains were used to classify the documents collected:
- Community Outreach
Sustainability Initiative (SI) scores were calculated for all school divisions in a province. The following sustainability-related variables were used to calculate the SI scores:
- A sustainability policy
- Mandates related to sustainability or environmental certification programs
- Sustainability staff
Sustainability Census of Canadian Post-secondary Education
SEPN-Canada collected and analyzed publicly available data on sustainability initiatives for all Canadian accredited 220 post-secondary institutions and developed SI Scores to rank institutional uptake of four high-level sustainability initiatives:
- Undertaking a sustainability assessment
- Signing a national or international environmental or sustainability declaration
- Having a sustainability office or officer
- Having a sustainability policy
Content Analysis of Policy Documents
SEPN-Canada has analyzed sustainability specific and non-sustainability-specific policy documents from all 13 provincial and territorial ministries of education and a sample of 50 PSE institutions.
- For non-sustainability specific high-level documents, SEPN examined key themes and priorities indicated in the documents including priori-ties as suggested in the policies’ text, how those priorities link to broader government policy, and how other priorities are being articulated in relation to (or not) priorities of sustainability
- Sustainability-specific documents underwent a parallel content analysis, with a focus on sustainability-specific themes and language in policies and plans including approaches to sustainability and points of definitional trajectories, policy mobility, and points of tension among approaches
This document outlines the data collection and data analysis methods in detail.
Codebooks are also available here for:
Document Analysis Databases
SEPN-Canada has conducted several systematic literature reviews and carried out large-scale, national-level data collection to collect relevant policy documents. As a result, SEPN has created a substantial data management network and has a wide array of database resources at its disposal, including:
|Type of Database||Description of Database||Number of Articles|
|Literature Review Databases||Systematic literature review on policy and sustainability/environmental education in K-12||292|
|Systematic literature review of educational research on sustainability in PSE||117|
|Review of survey research design, questionnaire design, and data collection methods||102|
|Review of methods for researching inter-organizational networks||150|
|Databases||Highest level non-sustainability-specific and sustainability-specific documents from all provincial and territorial ministries of education and AANDC (e.g., annual reports, curriculum foundational documents)||106|
|A census of sustainability features in all 220 Canadian accredited PSE institutions||N/A|
|A census of sustainability features in all 13 ministries of education and all 389 school divisions||N/A|
|All university- and college-wide sustainability policies/plans from all the 110 Canadian PSE institutions with sustainability policies/plans||115|
|Strategic plans and other foundational documents, including completed sustainability assessments, from a sample of 50 PSE institutions in all 13 provinces and territories||200+|
|All highest-level policy documents from each provincial and territorial ministry in Canada, including mission statements, the ministry’s key act, and other high-level policy documents||415|
|High-level non-sustainability and sustainability document database of Canadian federal government & Pan-Canadian sustainability documents||82|
|High-level document database of international documents regarding sustainability in education||47|