Climate Change and Sustainability Education in Canada: A Critical Discourse Analysis of Curricula in Three Provinces

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University of Guelph


Climate change (CC) is considered a pressing existential threat to the health of the planet and quality of life on Earth (IPCC, 2023). Education is seen as a potential mitigation factor. Using multiple case studies of tertiary data of nine curricula from three provinces (New Brunswick, Ontario, Saskatchewan), this study used critical discourse analysis to analyze the ideological underpinnings by which CC is taught according to Nisbet’s (2014) typology of public intellectual’s responses to CC, while by default identifying to what extent CC is present as a theme of study within these courses. This study found that while matters related to climate change and sustainability are often mentioned within these curricula, they lack essential problem framing and pathways to solutions and are generally not taught in a manner congruent with what UNESCO and the Government of Canada suggest: the pedagogical framework of sustainability education (UNESCO, 2022; Government of Canada, 2005).



Education, Sustainability education, Climate change, Discourse analysis