Theme 1’s Document Analysis involved compiling and analyzing existing documents and empirical data sets to uncover policy dynamics in PSE in relation to Canadian sustainability issues. This part of the project included:
- Sustainability censuses of all 220 accredited post-secondary institutions in Canada
- A content analysis of non-sustainability specific and sustainability-specific policy of a sample of 50 post-secondary institutions to better understand how sustainability is currently being engaged at the PSE level, and
- An examination of existing data sets on sustainability policy in education accessible to or held by SEPN participants and organizations
SEPN has conducted a census of sustainability features in all of Canada’s accredited post-secondary institutions. For the census, SEPN collected and analyzed publicly available data on sustainability initiatives for all Canadian accredited 220 post-secondary institutions. The team also developed Sustainability Initiative (SI) Scores which ranked institutions on their 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 and
- Having a sustainability policy
The PSE census will provide us with a greater understanding of which factors contribute to the implementation of sustainability policy at the PSE level across Canada. The research results can be found here.
SEPN has also conducted two sustainability censuses at the EC-12 level: one of all 289 school boards and the other examining all 13 provincial/territorial Ministries of Education.
Content Analysis of Policy Documents
SEPN sampled 50 post-secondary institutions (approximately three PSE institutions per province/territory) and examined strategic plans and other foundational documents, including completed sustainability assessments. Relevant national and international documents (e.g., UN declarations) that may influence regional policy adoption were also examined.
The documents were analyzed using critical policy analysis drawing on discourse theory.
- For non-sustainability-specific documents, we looked at key themes and priorities indicated in the documents. This portion of the analysis examined what priorities are suggested in the language used in the policies, 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 from Ministries of Education. This analysis examined approaches to sustainability as well as examining points of definitional trajectories, policy mobility, and points of tension among approaches