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Environmental and Sustainability Education

DEEPER:  Deepening Environmental Education in Pre-Service Education Roundtable & Resource Guide



Integrating Environmental Education (EE) into initial teacher education education in Ontario is a challenge, despite the Ministry of Education policy that requires it.  As introducing teacher candidates to the basics of EE is considered by many to be crucial to its wide scale implementation, DEEPER aims to help support and deepen this type of critical learning in faculties of education across Ontario.


It is of no surprise to supporters of EE in Ontario that the Ministry of Education’s policy in this area, Acting Today, Shaping Tomorrow, has yet to be fully implemented in Ontario schools.  Launched in 2009 during a time of shrinking government budgets, this policy has not been sufficiently supported nor promoted to share the new requirement for teachers to integrate EE into all subject areas, from Kindergarten to grade 12.  Many teachers are unaware of this radical shift in policy, and many others feel unprepared to implement EE in their grade and/or subject area.  Teachers are clear that they have had little or no introduction to EE as part of their teacher training, and therefore feel unprepared to tackle it in their classrooms.  Not surprisingly, many faculties of education are unclear as how to best include EE in their teacher training programs in light of this new policy.

DEEPER Provincial Roundtable      May 2013

This event was the first of its kind in Ontario to focus specifically on EE in initial teacher education.  It brought together faculty and educators experienced in EE from a variety of educational organizations to collaboratively identify a framework for and the components of EE for initial teacher education in Ontario.  Participants were invited from the following stakeholder groups:  initial teacher education faculty engaged in EE; pre-service students; curriculum leaders from school boards with active Ecoschool programs; practicing elementary and secondary teachers involved in EE; and representatives from NGOs doing EE-related work in Ontario.  The roundtable took place on May 13, 2013, and featured keynote speakers Pam Miller (Ecoschools Instructional Leader from the TDSB), Pam Schwartzberg (Executive Director from LSF) and Alexander Morihovitis (Co-Chair of the Bethune CI Environmental Action Team).  Sixty educators from around the province were in attendance, contributing their knowledge and expertise to a series of facilitated discussions over the course of the day.

The DEEPER Guide   

The DEEPER Guide is an unique contribution to environmental education in Ontario.  It is a resource guide for initial teacher educators, staff and students in faculties of education to help embed EE into their pre-service programs.  It shares the expertise of environmental educators who have found successful ways of integrating EE into initial teacher education.  It provides much needed professional development for those just starting in this field, and demonstrates the power of a collaborative approach to EE when faculties of education, school boards and NGOs work together. The DEEPER guide includes:

  • a vision and a set of core competencies in environmental education for initial teacher education programs;

  • an overview of the history of environmental education in initial teacher education in Ontario and more broadly;

  • a detailed description of proven practices and strategies for implementing environmental education into intial teacher education programs;

  • an extensive list of resources, organizations, and course syllabi to help readers deepen EE in their own courses, programs and faculties.


Click here for The DEEPER Guide

The Organizing Team

This project brings together two distinct yet related groups at The Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) at the University of Toronto. The Environmental and Sustainability Education Working Group, a group of OISE faculty, staff and students, have been in action for seven years working to support environmental and sustainability education at OISE and across Ontario.  The Dr. Eric Jackman Institute of Child Study (ICS), OISE’s Lab School, has become a prominent voice in environmental inquiry with children through the publication of the Natural Curiosity Project two years ago. 


The Sponsor

TD Friends of the Environment has generously provided the funding for the DEEPER event and guide. To learn more about this charitable organization, please visit: http://fef.td.com/

For more information or to provide feedback on the DEEPER Guide:  
Dr. Hilary Inwood 
(hilary.inwood@utoronto.ca) or
Andrea Cousineau 



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