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Policy Enactments and Sustainability Education

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PEASE is a sub-grant of the SEPN Project


Policy Enactments and Sustainability Education (PEASE):  Examining Policy Intersections on Sustainability in Formal Education 

The Policy Enactments and Sustainability Education (PEASE) project is a collaborative research project between York University and Lakehead University, which examines policy intersections around sustainability within Canadian formal education. It proposes to use educational institutions as laboratories to study the synergies and struggle policies experience with practice, with larger socio-cultural   context, and with each other.

As the United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (UNDESD) comes to a close (2005-2014), a number of Canadian education institutions have responded to the impetus to embed sustainability into their   institutional structure by drafting policy in relation to their understanding of   sustainability. However, what remains undetermined is how or whether these policies have been implemented. Schools report what policies they have, but   what remains unclear is how policy is done, and what other factors intersect with   the implementation of sustainability policy.

The PEASE project seeks to illustrate how sustainability policy is done (or not done) within Canadian education. Through examining institutional histories, interviewing key stakeholders, utilizing network analysis, and exploring the social imaginaries of what sustainability means at an institutional and individual level, the researchers hope to shed light on the elusive policy-practice gap that has typified much of sustainability education around the globe.

PEASE is a sub-grant, funded by the SEPN project, which in turn is funded by a $1,964,996 million Partnership Grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities   Research Council of Canada. IRIS is hosting the York University component of the PEASE sub-grant, which is led by Professor Steve Alsop, Core Faculty   member. The Principal Investigator for the SEPN project is Professor Marcia McKenzie of the University of Saskatchewan.

Other IRIS Core Faculty members on the grant include Leesa Fawcett, Timothy Leduc, and L. Anders Sandberg.

In 2013-2014 PEASE had four Graduate Assistants associated with the project: Masters students Christopher Bentley, Hannah Glow, Sinead Rafferty, as well as PhD student Ana Martinez. Ms. Glow, and Ms. Rafferty Master’s theses were nominated for the Outstanding Paper Series by the faculty.

View the PEASE Website.

About SEPN


Funding Source: Social Science and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) Partnership Grant
Principle Investigator:
Dr. Marcia Mckenzie, University of Saskatchewan
York University Co-applicant: Steve Alsop
York University Collaborators: Don Dippo, Leesa Fawcett, Anders Sandberg and Timothy Leduc

The Sustainability and Education Policy Network (SEPN) is a research-based partnership between academic research institutions and national/international organizations, supported by a 2 million dollar SSHRC Partnership Grant (2012-2019) and led by the University of Saskatchewan (PI, Dr. Marcia McKenzie). The York component is led by IRIS' Core Faculty member Steve Alsop, from the Faculty of Education, and also includes York Faculty members Don Dippo, Leesa Fawcett, Anders Sandberg and Timothy Leduc.

McKenzie leads the seven-year, $3-million initiative called the Sustainability and Education Policy Network (SEPN) which is exploring new models to improve how environmental sustainability is taught and practiced in schools, universities, and other educational institutions. The initiative will create positions for 10 Masters students, 10 PhD students, and three postdoctoral fellows. Seven of these positions will be at the U of S, with the others at partner institutions.

“Climate change, new environmental technologies, energy and water sustainability are not solely technical issues – they are also cultural and political challenges. To respond to these challenges, we need integrated solutions that depend on a citizenry that is both informed and motivated,” said McKenzie.

SEPN plans to develop a set of best practices and policies to engage decision-makers in furthering environmental sustainability efforts across the country through education.

Researchers will analyze existing policy from provincial ministries of education, federal First Nations’ school administration, and post-secondary institutions. They will also conduct community-based site analyses to see how sustainability policies are experienced in the classroom, in how organizations conduct their operations, and by the broader community.

For more information on the project as it develops, visit

View the press release: