11th World Environmental Education Congress
Building Bridges in Times of Climate Urgency
14-18 March 2022 PragueCZECH REPUBLIC


Main theme Building Bridges in Times of Climate Urgency  
Theme 01 Action competence and key competences for sustainability (Olsson & Sund)
Theme 02 Arts, ethics, and EE (Jickling, Dlouha & Henderson)
Theme 03 Business Sector and EE (Gal & Varga)
Theme 04 Climate Change Education (Monroe & Kolenaty & White)
Theme 05 Early Childhood Education: The Foundation of ESD (Jancarikova, Elliott & Arlemalm-Hagser)
Theme 06 Education for Environmental Citizenship (Hadjichambis & Hansmann)
Theme 07 EE in Non-Formal Settings (Mukute & Chochoulouskova & Medek)
Theme 08 EE in the Anthropocene (Paulsen & Blekinsop & Malone)
Theme 09 Outdoor EE: Bridging Nature Experiences with School and Home (Johnson & Fryzova)
Theme 10 Place-based Education (PBE) (Bocko & Jorgenson)
Theme 11 Sustainable Universities (Gal & Varga)
Theme 12 Transformative, Transgressive learning in communities (Lotz-Sisitka & Maqwelane)
Theme 13 Whole School Approaches to Environmental and Sustainability Education (Goldman & Gericke)
Cross-cutting theme Water for life (Nasser)

Main theme: Building Bridges in Times of Climate Urgency

How can environmental and sustainability education contribute to overcoming disjunctions and the (often false) binaries that separate people from nature, and support a more sustainable, equitable, and relational way of being in the world? This Congress will help us to build bridges for all: between different approaches to environmental education and education for sustainable development, across international boundaries, between formal, informal, and community education, as well as between researchers and practitioners around the world.

Action competence and key competences for sustainability

Chairs: Daniel Olsson, Karlstad university & Per Sund, Stockholm University

In teaching practice, research and at the policy level for global development, learning outcomes of Environmental and Sustainability Education (ESE) have increasingly been translated into a number of competences for sustainable development.

The underlying educational idea is to empower young people through developing such competences, and the teaching aim is to apply the knowledge and skills young people learn at school and turn knowledge into action. A developed action competence makes students equipped to handle complex societal challenges of sustainable development. The long-term ambition of ESE and the development of competences is to support young people’s capability for reflection and analysis and their willingness to act based on informed views, and thus contribute to a better and more sustainable world

This sub-theme provides a forum to highlight initiatives for action competence and key competences in ESE, with a view to enhancing a more contemporary and comprehensive quality education through further theorization, conceptualization and empirical investigations of action competence and key competences for sustainability. This strand invites all stakeholders interested in competences and ESE.

Arts, ethics, and environmental education

Chair: Bob Jickling, Lakehead University, Jana Dlouha & Laura Henderson (Charles University Environment Centre)

This theme invites participants to consider forms of expression that nurture human capacities for awareness, perception, care, compassion, healing, justice, and love. In these times of increasing environmental uncertainty it appears that education, as it presently plays out, is struggling to disrupt the status quo in any meaningful way. This theme begins with the premise that environmental education must include space to move beyond the mainstream capacities for science, logic, and linguistic representations. And, when we do, it no longer makes sense to distinguish between philosophy and art.

For ethics, this means moving away from philosophies that are rooted in abstract principles and subject-object dualisms. This means bravely exploring ways of discovering the world that are restorative, affirming, peculiar, empathetic, and joyful. And, it means encouraging multiple forms of knowing and doing that restore our embodied sensibilities. When we go forward in this way, we are performing beautiful and revolutionary acts.

The arts give us the power of imagery, symbolism, metaphor and feeling to transgress boundaries of our thinking and being. They help transport us to unknown lands and imagined futures through images, metaphors, and idiomatic thinking in poetry, visual arts, sound art, bio-art, performances, theatre, and storytelling. And, the arts serve to give presence to contradictions and controversies—and different stories. Each story then provides a starting point for re-imagining new possibilities.

With this background in mind, we are particularly interested in presentations that appear at the intersections of:

  • ethics and art as social practice,
  • ethics and art as activism, and
  • ethics and art as collaborative learning.

We are also interested in projects where ethics and artistic practices can intersect to:

  • restore playfulness in our responses to the world,
  • generate creative action,
  • engage in eco-atonement, and
  • ignite social movements.

Workshop proposals that plan to initiate creative projects that aim to be participative and collaborative are welcomed. In these cases, a clear description of the workshop methodology must be detailed in the abstract.

With thanks to include, but not limited to: Jan Zwicky, David Orr, Arne Naess, Zygmunt Bauman, Anthony Weston, Jim Cheney, Suzi Gablik, Dylan McGarry, Hannah Jickling, and Helen Reed.

Business Sector and Environmental Education

Chairs: Adiv Gal, Kibbutzim College of Education Technology and the Arts & Attila Varga, Eötvös Loránd University

It is undisputed that the business sector has the most impact on the continuation of the environmental crisis in which we live. Recognizing the impact of business sector on the continuation of the causal crisis is nothing new. The business sector has a major impact on the biotic and biotic factors found in the Earth and on their interactions (Patnaik, 2018). Seemingly, and in line with the objectives of environmental education (McKeown & Hopkins, 2003), environmental educators could be expected to focus on educational activities even with representatives of business sector. In practice, environmental education has begun its practice in the formal education system (Mckeown & Hopkins, 2005) and for nearly fifty years environmental education continues to concentrate on activities with students in formal education in schools (Lükő & Kollarics, 2015). The activities of environmental educators with an adult audience, the private sector and, among other things, with the various industrial companies are limited. Adult education is both a long-term solution and a major lever that can link our existing lifestyle to a very different ecologically and socially sustainable future (Lange, 2007).

At the same time, for over a decade, various organizations, including industry organizations, have realized that sustainable business success and shareholder value cannot be achieved solely through maximizing short-term profits but rather fair behavior towards the community. Companies are aware that they can contribute to sustainable development by managing their operations in a way that will empower economic growth and increase competitiveness while ensuring environmental protection (Fontaine, 2013). Therefore, investigating the existence of business sector-environmental cooperation is a very important issue. At the same time, it is important for citizens to have critical thinking and understand the risks and benefits of business sector coexistence so that they can reach informed public decisions (Proikaki, Malesios, & Roumeliotis, 2014). Therefore, collaboration between environmental educators and business sector professionals can lead to a win-win situation. In this session we would like to hear about the collaborations between environmental educators and business sector. We want to learn from success stories, we want to hear about challenges, we want to hear about solving crises in the process that is taking place between educators and industry bodies. The session is intended to present research work on these topics.

Climate Change Education

Chairs: Martha C. Monroe, University of Florida & Miloslav Kolenatý, University of J.E. Purkyne Usti nad Labem & Peta White, Deakin University

Climate change is a complex scientific, environmental, social, political, economic, and security challenge for the world. In the last few years, more people realize that climate change has become a factor affecting all activities of human society at every scale. Climate scientists have provided compelling data and sobering projections about significant changes currently underway on our planet (IPCC 2018). Social scientists are playing a critical role in exploring how individuals, groups, and communities respond to climate information (Kahan and Braman 2005), addressing helplessness and anxiety, and motivating change (Clayton et al. 2017).

Educators are an important bridge between a variety of disciplinary perspectives, translating and framing the science to be understandable and believable, developing climate literacy among their audiences, empowering educators and learners work toward social change. Many aspects of Climate Change Education (CCE) parallel high quality environmental education and education for sustainable development, but key characteristics of climate change, such climate justice, fear and risk, ambiguity and uncertainty, trust and faith, and time horizon might create some unique opportunities for research and practice. There has been an intensive debate in the field of CCE research over the last 10-15 years which covers issues such as the suitability of certain educational strategies and methods; the implementation of CCE in school curricula and teacher education; the development of beliefs, misconceptions and attitudes to the climate crisis; climate change communication, etc.(e.g. Ignell, 2019; Stevenson, 2019; Brownlee, 2013; Bofferding, 2015; Porter, 2012; Busch, 2018; Monroe, 2019; Visintainer, 2015; Varela, 2018; Reid, 2019a; Reid, 2019b; Kagawa, 2010).

This session will feature the practice and research that enables us to make CCE an effective tool for launching individual, communal, societal and political changes urgently needed for mitigating and adapting to climate change. We welcome proposals that span the following realms:

  • providing educators and administrators with an integral system of effective CCE methodology and techniques
  • addressing different or conflicting worldviews, lack of trust, and divisive messages in climate education and encouraging civic engagement to address climate issues
  • building networks to scaling up community efforts into effective change
  • collaborating to take education beyond the classroom to engage community NGO’s and nonformal educators with formal education - both schools and academics – such as the UN Regional Centres of Expertise on ESD and nurturing intergenerational education
  • considering the ethics of responsibility for CCE
  • practicing interdisciplinary learning despite the structure of formal education
  • using education to address the current human impacts of climate change, such as storm-related disasters and climate injustice, as we create and balance new world for the future
  • exploring how CCE contributes to EE/EfS/ESD
  • exploring how the world’s response to and recovery from COVID-19 suggests strategies for CCE

This session is organized with the support of the Prague City Hall.


BOFFERDING, Laura a Matthew KLOSER, 2015. Middle and High School Students' Conceptions of Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies. Environmental Education Research [online]. 21(2), 275-294. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/13504622.2014.888401. ISSN 13504622.

BROWNLEE, Matthew, Robert B. POWELL a Jeffery C. HALLO, 2013. A Review of the Foundational Processes that Influence Beliefs in Climate Change: Opportunities for Environmental Education Research. Environmental Education Research [online]. 19(1), 1-20. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/13504622.2012.683389.

BUSCH, K. C., Joseph A. HENDERSON a Kathryn T. STEVENSON, 2018. Broadening epistemologies and methodologies in climate change education research. Environmental Education Research [online]. 25(6), 955-971. DOI: 10.1080/13504622.2018.1514588.

Clayton, S., Manning, C. M., Krygsman, K., & Speiser, M. (2017). Mental Health and Our Changing Climate: Impacts, Implications, and Guidance. Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association, and ecoAmerica.

EUROPEAN COMMISSION, 2019. European Climate Action. Brusel: European Commission. Retrieved from: https://ec.europa.eu/clima/sites/clima/files

GUTERRES, António, 2018. Secretary-General's remarks on Climate Change. New York: United Nations. Retrieved from: https://www.un.org/sg/en/content/sg/statement/2018-09-10/secretary-generals-remarks-climate-change-delivered

HOFFMAN, Andrew J., 2015. How Culture Shapes the Climate Change Debate. Redwood City: Stanford University Press.

IGNELL, Caroline, Peter DAVIES a Cecilia LUNDHOLM, 2019. A longitudinal study of upper secondary school students’ values and beliefs regarding policy responses to climate change. Environmental Education Research [online]. 25(5), 615-632. DOI: 10.1080/13504622.2018.1523369.

IPCC 2018. Global Warming of 1.5C. An IPCC Special Report on the impacts of global warming of 1.5C above pre-industrial levels and related global greenhouse gas emission pathways… Geneva, Switzerland.

JICKLING, Bob, 2013. Normalizing Catastrophe: An Educational Response. Environmental Education Research [online]. 19(2), 161-176. DOI: 10.1080/13504622.2012.721114.

Kahan, D. M., & Braman, D. (2005). Cultural Cognition and Public Policy (SSRN Scholarly Paper No. ID 746508). Retrieved from Social Science Research Network website: https://papers.ssrn.com/abstract=746508

KAGAWA, Fumiyo a David SELBY, 2010. Education and Climate Change: Living and Learning in Interesting Times. New York: Routledge.

MONROE, Martha, Richard PLATE, Annie OXARART, Alison BOWERS a Willandia CHAVES, 2019. Identifying effective climate change education strategies: a systematic review of the research. Environmental Education Research [online]. 25(6), 791-812. DOI: 10.1080/13504622.2017.1360842.

PORTER, Dianna, Andrew J. WEAVER a Helen RAPTIS, 2012. Assessing Students' Learning about Fundamental Concepts of Climate Change under Two Different Conditions. Environmental Education Research [online]. 18(5), 665-686. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/13504622.2011.640750.

REID, Alan, 2019a. Key questions about climate change education and research: 'essences' and 'fragrances'. Environmental Education Research [online]. 18 Sep 2019, 25(6), 972-976. DOI: 10.1080/13504622.2019.1662078.

REID, Alan, 2019b. Climate change education and research: possibilities and potentials versus problems and perils?. Environmental Education Research [online]. 25(6), 767-790. DOI: 10.1080/13504622.2019.1664075.

STEVENSON, Kathryn T., Nils M. PETERSON a Howard D. BONDELL, 2019. The influence of personal beliefs, friends, and family in building climate change concern among adolescents. Environmental Education Research [online]. 25(6), 832-845. DOI: 10.1080/13504622.2016.1177712.

STEVENSON, Robert B., Jennifer NICHOLLS a Hilary WHITEHOUSE, 2017. What is climate change education?. Curriculum Perspectives [online]. Springer, 37(1), 67-71. DOI: 10.1007/s41297-017-0015-9. VARELA, Begoña, Vanessa SESTO a Isabel GARCÍA-RODEJA, 2018. An Investigation of Secondary Students’ Mental Models of Climate Change and the Greenhouse Effect. Research in Science Education [online]. 48(2), 1-26. DOI: 10.1007/s11165-018-9703-1.

VISINTAINER, Tammie a Marcia LINN, 2015. Sixth-Grade Students' Progress in Understanding the Mechanisms of Global Climate Change. Journal of Science Education and Technology [online]. 24(2-3), 287-310. DOI: 10.1007/s10956-014-9538-0.


Early Childhood Education: The Foundation of ESD

Chairs: Kateřina Jančaříková, Charles University & Sue Elliott, University of New England & Eva Arlemalm-Hagser, Mälardalen University

It is 70 years since the death of Dr Maria Montessori, a pioneer in early childhood education (ECE). Along with other significant forerunners such as Froebel, her legacy continues into the present, particularly through her focus on fostering children’s independence and creating environments where children can make mistakes and be absorbed in learning. However, contexts in the 21st century present new challenges and possibilities for young children, both globally and locally. Central to young children thriving and surviving now and into the future is Early Childhood Education for Sustainable Development (EC ESD), and similar forms known in different parts of the world as Early Childhood Education for Sustainability (ECEfS), and Early Childhood Environment Education (ECEE). As the Gothenburg Recommendations on ESD (2008) states: “It is imperative that Early Childhood Education is recognized as the starting point for lifelong learning within education for sustainability” (p.27). However, replicating the same kinds of education that have contributed to current (un)sustainability challenges will not best equip young people into the future. Working out how to engage children from an early age to contribute to sustainable futures, through learning to be creative problem solvers and solution seekers, especially through the continuance of play-based learning approaches, is our contemporary challenge.

Nevertheless, there are many examples of Early Childhood Education learning communities that are breaking new theoretical and pedagogical ground. These include, for example, rethinking rights in light of sustainability challenges, creating learning places and spaces that honor and respect intergenerational learning, embedding Indigenous perspectives into kindergarten/preschool programs, extending nature play so that it engages deeply with ideas about people and place stewardship, using digital technologies to enhance learning about natural and social worlds, or creating artistic spaces that support children to articulate thoughts and feelings when words may not yet be available.

Drawing on Montessori’s and others’ legacies - but going well beyond - and in line with perspectives of young children as active learners empowered with rights, we invite research and practice contributions on topics such as, but not limited to:

  • learning and teaching of young children in the changing and challenging landscapes in the 21st century
  • challenging taken-for-granted beliefs and practices in ECE in relation to environmental and sustainability issues and topics
  • presenting what ‘best’ and ‘next’ practice/strategies, tools or programs might look like in EC ESD/ECEfS/ECEE
  • speculating on what theory, curriculum, and pedagogy for child agency and empowerment might look like in ECE
  • how human alienation from nature influences/shapes early childhood education, and what remedies are possible
  • investigating what post-Anthropocene/post-humanist perspectives might mean in/for ECESD
  • exploring sustainability in ECE through arts-focused pedagogies and approaches
  • harnessing digital technologies to complement education for sustainability in ECE
  • ways that nature-based learning, such as forest preschools or bush kindergartens, might be better harnessed towards addressing sustainability issues
  • considering how the Sustainable Development Goals might support the continuing development of the field of ECESD
  • assessing and/or provoking early childhood teacher education to more fully contribute to creating or shaping the next generations of ECE teachers as educators and advocates for ECESD.

Education for Environmental Citizenship

Chairs: Andreas Ch. Hadjichambis, ENEC CYCERE & Ralph Hansmann, ETH Zürich

Environmental Citizenship is recognized as an important aspect in addressing global environmental crises such as climate change (Stern 2011; Ockwell et al. 2009). Education for Environmental Citizenship (EEC) is the type of education that cultivates a coherent and adequate body of knowledge as well as the necessary skills, values, attitudes and competencies that an Environmental Citizen should be equipped with in order to be able to act and participate in society as an agent of change in the private and public sphere, on a local, national and global scale, through individual and collective actions, in the direction of solving contemporary environmental problems, preventing the creation of new environmental problems, in achieving sustainability as well as developing a healthy relationship with nature. ‘Education for Environmental Citizenship’ empowers citizens to practise their environmental rights and duties, as well as to identify the underlying structural causes of environmental problems, develop the willingness and the competences for critical and active engagement and civic participation to address those structural causes and act individually and collectively within democratic means, taking into account the inter- and intra-generational justice (ENEC 2018). Therefore, civic engagement and civic participation, democratic action, as well as social and environmental change through environmental actions are integral parts of the education for environmental citizenship.

This session is organized with the support of the Embassy of Switzerland in the Czech Republic.


European Network for Environmental Citizenship – ENEC (2018). Defining “Education for Environmental Citizenship”. Retrieved from http://enec-cost.eu/our-approach/education-for-environmental-citizenship/

Stern, P. C. (2011). Contributions of psychology to limiting climate change. American Psychologist, 66(4), 303.

Ockwell, D., Whitmarsh, L., & O'Neill, S. (2009). Reorienting climate change communication for effective mitigation: Forcing people to be green or fostering grass-roots engagement? Science Communication, 30(3), 305–327.

Environmental Education in Non-Formal Settings

Chairs: Mutizwa Mukute, Rhodes University & Zdenka Chocholouskova, University of West Bohemia & Michal Medek, Kaprálův mlýn Scout Environmental Education Centre

Environmental education (EE) in non-formal settings or non-formal EE is becoming an increasingly important way of learning in anthropocene. Non-formal EE is also called adult education, community education, second-change education or lifelong learning (Yang et al., 2015). The learners in non-formal EE are youth, adults, workers and communities interested in improving their understanding of and relations with their social ecological environments; and in developing individual and collective capacity to tackle the social and environmental problems they experience. The bigger goal of non-formal EE in anthropocene is to develop and implement sustainability and more just solutions (Calvente et al., 2018; Mukute et al., 2018) through learning in, about and for the wellness of the environment and human beings (Mappin & Johnson, 2005). The learning takes place outside the schooling system, in communities, workplaces, and in the built or natural environment in both rural and urban contexts. The learning is mediated by multiple actors who include educators and content specialists, activists and innovative community members (Mukute et al., 2018).

According to Rogers (2005) non-formal education is distinguished from formal education in that it has: (i) less hierarchical teaching-learning relationships, (ii) stronger and explicit focus on a professional practice, and (iii) an explicit social value or purpose. The social value includes and is not limited to: appreciation and respect for the environment; the unlocking of imagination, critical thinking, creativity and innovation; seeing the interconnectedness between social, ecological, economic, cultural and political issues; becoming better informed producers, consumers, and policy-makers; healthier and more sustainable lifestyles; consideration of the future of the earth; and good citizenship. Having said this, it is also important to point out the formal education’s thrust in the 21st century, and through education for sustainable development (ESD), is blurring the differences between formal and non-formal education purpose (Whitby, 2007; Yang et al., 2015).

Despite its intentions to foster the seeing and valuing of ecological, social, cultural, political and economic interconnections, non-formal EE encounters polarisations in practice. Some of these polarisations are between: different ways of knowing, environmental activism, social justice, and environmental ethics and justice based on variations in philosophical, political and educational theory orientations (Babikwa, 2004; Birch, 2019). Revealing and addressing polarisations in EE part and parcel of learning and learning research.

Given that the focus of WEEC 2021 is ‘building bridges’, we envisage the preparation of research papers and posters that make connections within the non-formal environmental education sector, and between it and formal and informal education sectors, and between different positions and perspectives in the EE field. Some of the non-formal settings in which we envisage the papers and posters to be based on are: (i) workplaces, (ii) in and around protected areas, (iii) zoos, museums and botanical gardens, (iv) degraded or polluted rural or urban spaces and ecosystems, (iv) interacting schooling-community spaces, and (v) environmental and social justice movements.


Babikwa, D. J. (2004). Tensions, contradictions and inconsistencies in community-based environmental education programmes: The role of defective educational theories. Southern African Journal of Environmental Education 21, 61-80.

Birch, S. (2019). Political polarisation and environmental attitudes: a cross-national analysis. Environmental Politics: https://doi.org/10.1080/09644016.2019.1673997

Calvente, A., Kharrazi, A., Kudo, S., & Savaget, P. (2018). Non-formal environmental education in a vulnerable region: Insights from a 20-year old engagement in Petropolis, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Sustainability 10(4247), 1-13.

Mapping, M. J. & Johnson, E. A. (2005). Changing perspectives of ecology and education in environmental education. In: Johnson, E. A. & Mappin, M. J. (Eds), Environmental education and advocacy (pp. 1-27). Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, UK.

Mukute, M., Mudokwani, K., McAllister, G., & Nyikahadzoi, K. (2018). Exploring the potential of developmental work research and change laboratory to support sustainability transformations: Case study of organic agriculture in Zimbabwe. Mind, Culture and Activity, 25(3), 229–246: https://doi.org/10.1080/10749039.2018.1451542

Whitby, G. D. (2007). Pedagogies for the 21st century: Having the courage to see freshly. Paper presented at the ACEL Conference in held in Sydney, Australia.

Yang, J., Schneller, C., & Roche, S. (Eds.). (2015). The role of higher education in promoting lifelong learning. UNESCO Institute of Lifelong Learning: Hamburg, Germany.

Environmental Education in the Anthropocene

Chairs: Michael Paulsen, University of Southern Denmark & Sean Blenkinsop, Simon Frazer University & Karen Malone, Swinburne University of Technology



The aim of the session is to discuss pedagogical challenges and potentials of the Anthropocene epoch. Growing up today means entering a world of global warming, decreasing biodiversity, break downs of ecological systems and spreading of viruses like COVID-19. The role of education and schooling cannot be to support structures and habits that underlie, maintain, and sustain these challenges. Thus, the times are calling for new philosophies of education, cultural revolts and radical new imaginations, thoughts and practices, right now.

The overall question is: how should we as educators and theorists rethink and redo ourselves as human beings, our relations to more-than-human life, on this planet, our practices and theories of education, and our understanding of the capacities and values of this life? More specifically we invite presentations that address one or more of the following 3 key questions:

Q1: What role can / should pedagogy, upbringing and education play in relation to today's overriding climate and biodiversity crises? Does the Anthropocene epoch (with a new unstable climate, new kinds of globally spreading viruses like Corona, but also new novel knowledges), call for new ways of educating? And who should be educated by whom? Should education only be carried out by humans and for humans? Do current proposals such as dark pedagogy, wild pedagogies or critical ecopedagogy provide sufficient answers to these questions? And to what extent can traditional ways of thinking about education help us point out new trajectories of pedagogical action? Or, perhaps, should we instead rethink the very foundation of education as it has been developed, not least in the West, in the Late Holocene?

Q2: How can we strengthen the recognition of nature as filled with sentient and agential beings and conveyors of knowledge, and/or a wonder and/or a dialogue partner? How do we (re-)create a responsible relationship towards mutual flourishing and guard against risk of failing? Or put differently: is it perilously ‘ego-centric’ for humans to believe they are the only species capable of pedagogical exchange – of narrativization? Could ideas like ‘bewildering education’ or ‘decentering the human’, ‘environmental literacy’, ‘re-newed connections with more-than-human worlds’ and/or ‘re-wilding human consciousness’ be fruitful in this regard? And/or: Do indigenous knowledges offer pedagogies of kinship with earth and of ancestral relationship with nature’s entities? And how might those be engaged with in appropriate ways? Or more generally: How can other-than-humans be included and understood in pedagogical activities, not only as objects of study, but also as agents in their own right?

Q3: Is the critique of humanism and anthropocentrism misplaced? Should Environmental Education or ecopedagogy today go back to the roots of educational tradition, and reformulate concepts like Paideia anew? Thus, one could ask if the problem really is that we have been too human-centered – maybe it is the other way around? That we have been too little "humanistic" in education and in society as a whole for the last 1-2-3-4 centuries? And too technical and capitalistic? But then again: does technical and capitalistic not imply that everything (including ourselves) are reduced to resources, mere consuming things and commodities, rather than being treated as a "someone", "a being" that has value in itself and which, in a sense, one should learn to respect in one's own right, but also learn to come into dialogue with and potentially care for? And this is certainly not what the western educational tradition has taught, one could perhaps argue? At least not with regards to more-than-human beings. So, should we more radically rethink a "new Earth"?

Outdoor Environmental Education: Bridging Nature Experiences with School and Home

Chairs: Bruce Johnson, University of Arizona & Iva Frýzová, Masaryk University

Outdoor environmental education (OEE) involves experiences in nature with a goal of helping participants develop environmental knowledge, values, attitudes and/or behavior and actions. There is a wide range of OEE programs, sometimes provided for preschool and school children/students and educators/teachers as a supplemental field trip, but they can also be an integral part of preschool/school curriculum. What they share is a focus on providing memorable, positive experiences in the natural world.

Key issues in OEE include the bridges with:

  • Preschools and Schools
  • Teacher preparation and development
  • Environmental scientists
  • Environmental activists
  • Education Policy
  • Home and families

There are many important questions about OEE experiences. One set of questions revolve around designing and implementing programs. How do the purposes of programs determine how the programs are designed and enacted? In what ways are programs for different ages or cultures appropriate for those participants? How do participants make sense of their experiences? How are the knowledge/understandings, feelings/values/attitudes, and behaviors/actions included in the goals of these programs related? How are affective goals incorporated into OEE program? How do programs that aim to influence participants’ environmental behaviors/actions make that purpose clear to schools and participants and design the programs with that in mind? A second set of questions inquire about effectiveness and impact of programs. How do these experiences influence participants’ feeling of connectedness to nature and commitment to lessen their impact? What do participants learn, and how is that learning transferred back to home and school? What lasting impacts do OEE programs have on participants? We are interested in proposals that explore these and related questions by sharing examples or through sharing evaluation and research.

Place-based Education (PBE)

Chairs: Paul Bocko, Antioch University & Simon Jorgenson, University of Vermont

The PBE theme will focus on theoretical and practical approaches to education conceptualized as a form of placemaking. As such, we seek proposals that envision teachers and students as active participants in making and remaking the world by shaping what happens in the places they call home. The primary aim of the theme is to illuminate promising, collaborative practices for bridging the gap between schools and communities and engaging the local natural, cultural, and built environment as a context for teaching and learning. Appropriate topics for this theme include but are not limited to: youth participation and voice, placemaking and education, place-based curricula and schooling, community partnerships, intergenerational learning, and PBE’s social, emotional, and academic outcomes.

A mixture of research reports and reports of field-based experiences will be reviewed and potentially accepted for the session. Research can include implementation, design, case, and empirical studies. We specifically seek practical case studies from around the world that highlight the promise of implementing PBE in diverse social, cultural, and environmental contexts.

Sustainable Universities

Chairs: Adiv Gal, Kibbutzim College of Education Technology and the Arts & Attila Varga, Eötvös Loránd University

Only two decades after the Stockholm Declaration, the process of driving environmental change began in higher education institutions, which was reflected, in part, in green campus accreditation processes (Dahle & Neumayer, 2001). In 2012, more than 1,400 green campuses were reported worldwide (Grindsted, 2011). Although green campuses have been defined in various forms around the world (Grindsted, 2011), there are a number of characteristics common to all green campuses.

These characteristics include:

  • Institutional leadership in the field of sustainability,
  • Creating physical infrastructure on campus (Resource saving mechanisms,
  • Intelligent use of resources and more) (Wright, 2002),
  • Teaching and curriculum that deal with sustainability education, providing "personal example" in courses taught in the institution and reference to community activities ( Shriberg, 2002).

James and Card (James & Card, 2012), who summarize a number of studies that have examined green campuses around the world, argue that there are three other significant factors that lead to a green campus.

These factors include:

  • research and tools for assessing and measuring the environmental impacts of the institution,
  • methods for overcoming barriers, and
  • campus activism (Dahle & Neumayer, 2001).

Despite characterizing the various factors on green campuses, these characteristics do not produce the behavioral change at the individual or organizational level because the change is not a long-term cultural change that is the second thread between all units and the academic institution (Shumacher & Fuhrman, 2012). In this session we would like to hear about „Success stories“ of leading long-term green change processes on higher education campuses, we want to understand what are the factors that have led to organizational change in higher education institutions, we want to learn how green organizational change can be led in higher education institutions.

Transformative, Transgressive learning in communities

Chairs: Heila Lotz-Sisitka, Rhodes University & Lwande Maqwelane, Rhodes University

"Building Bridges" requires learning outside of formal education and learning institutions. To date much research on learning in environmental education and ESD has been in spaces that are more formalised. Concepts and practices of transformative learning have also been eroded and oftentimes inadequately developed and/or theorised in environmental education and ESD research. Transgressive learning presents an interesting troubling of traditional forms of transformative learning, but itself is an under-developed concept and idea, especially when the potential of such learning to trouble and reframe systemic dysfunctions is considered.

This thematic area invites practitioners and researchers to consider some of these dimensions: What does transformative, transgressive learning in communities and social movements look like? How can such learning be catalysed, mediated and supported when traditional forms of structuring of learning are no longer adequate? This theme will welcome considerations on how community practices and cultures shape (i.e. both enable and constrain) transformative learning in the 21st century and in times of polarization and climate urgency. We also welcome considerations on how new media enables and constrains such learning, and how forms of social movement and collective agency formation for the common good are creating new forms of transformative, transgressive learning.

We also welcome reflections on the processes as well as the outcomes of transformative learning, and indeed challenge researchers and practitioners to critically challenge and re-imagine concepts, theories, practices, and methods of transformative learning in different cultures and contexts. These are some of the dimensions we hope to debate in this thematic area of the WEEC 2021. We invite reflections on practical field-based contextual experiences of such transformative learning processes, as well as theoretical and research-based contributions.

Whole School Approaches to Environmental and Sustainability Education

Chairs: Daphne Goldman, Beit Berl College & Niklas Gericke, Karlstad University

Incorporating environmental and sustainability education (ESE) into formal educational systems has presented immense challenges. For example, how to fit a holistic educational approach into mainstream disciplinary-structured educational systems? How can we provide children and young people with educational experiences that provide meaningful learning by facilitating the development of critical reflective thinking and reflective judgement and various skills required by citizens in a complex world with uncertain future?

One approach that has emerged is a whole system approach. The ‘Whole School Approach’ (from early childhood and preschool throughout higher education) to environmental and sustainability education reflects a holistic and participatory educational philosophy that aims to enhance the potential of the school environment to function as an authentic and meaningful learning place. Despite the rich diversity in ways this approach plays out in different places, nationally and globally, one common guiding principle is the integration among three lines of action: environmental management of the educational institution ('greening' the school), establishing ongoing partnerships with the broader local community around issues of social-environmental sustainability, and incorporating sustainability in the curriculum. It is envisioned that working together, these make sustainability the school culture. Integrating the 'greening' of the preschool/school/college/university environment and the curriculum reflects a vision that the preschool/school settings provide a 'living laboratory' transforming the school environment into an authentic learning environment that facilitates student engagement in action-based learning. Building partnerships between the immediate school community and broader community reflect a current vision regarding the relationships between early childhood settings/schools and their surrounding community. Engaging the whole school community reflects an understanding that the sustainability of the process depends on the ongoing involvement of all stakeholders.

This global effort to re-orient mainstream early and formal education toward sustainability has provided a substrate for theoretical and evaluative empirical study. This theme seeks to take a critical look at experience that has been gained from the rich and diverse implementations of the whole system approach to ESE throughout the educational pipeline – from preschool to higher education. This call seeks research-focused submissions as well as submissions presenting case studies/best practices that go beyond the descriptive and incorporate a critical perspective. Rickenson, Hall and Reid (2016) emphasize the importance of tying the impacts of the programs to their attributes – "efforts to understanding what it is about a program that is influential in bringing about those impacts". This call seeks submissions that especially reflect "efforts to understand what it is about [the] programme that is influential in bringing about [the] impacts" (there, p. 361), taking a more nuanced look into "how and why such programmes work".

This theme also provides a broad umbrella for submissions that take a critical look into processes of greening formal educational institutions (pre-school, school, institutions of higher education) and non-formal education frameworks (e.g. Community centers, youth movements). Submissions in the areas of 'Citizen science', 'Open schooling', ‘School leadership’ and ‘School organization’ are also relevant to the theme of whole system approach to ESE.


Rickinson, M., Hall, M., & Reid, A. (2016). Sustainable school programmes: what influence on schools and how do we know? Environmental Education Research, 22: 360-389.

Water for life: a cross-cutting theme

Chair: Prof. Abidelfatah Nasser, Beitberl College of Education, Beitberl, Israel

Water quality and quantity are very crucial for sustaining life in many parts of the world. In arid and semi-arid zones, communities are suffering from water scarcity due to population growth, climate change and lack of technological development. Therefore, education for water conservation and reuse in an urban setting is very crucial for sustaining life in dry regions.

The cross-cutting theme “water for life” addresses issues of water reclamation using extensive technologies, which are suitable for low technology and suitable for direct application in an urban setting. The utilized technologies will also be suitable for the collection of stormwater. The workshop "water for life" will establish a group of educators and researchers interested in using the topic “water” to enhance the awareness and research in environmental education and will be a follow up of the group established in WEEC2019 in Bangkok. The subtheme consists of two parts, the round table session (90 min) and the follow-up workshop (60 min). As an output of the workshop, a subgroup of water for life will be formed.

The Round table session focuses on sharing the experience with the following topics (not limited to):

  • extensive technologies for wastewater and gray water treatment suitable for none-potable water reuse
  • environmental education through water conservation and reuse
  • water quality and natural water treatment processes
  • case studies of water treatment and utilization for environmental education
  • water cycle and the impact of human activities
  • utilization of treated wastewater and storm water for green city projects

Individual presenters are assigned to numbered tables in rooms where interested participants may gather for discussion with the presenter about his/her paper or project. Short presentation (up to 15 min) are expected. These discussions will be held in English. All of the submissions will be reviewed.


Please keep me informed about any news:
This website uses cookies to improve services. By keeping browsing you accept the use of cookies.