Securing the Place of Educating for Sustainable Development Within Existing Curriculum Frameworks: A Comparative Analysis


  • Don Metz University of Winnipeg
  • Barbara McMillan University of Manitoba
  • Mona Maxwell University of Manitoba
  • Amanda Tetrault University of Manitoba


Educating for sustainable development (ESD) is generally found within existing disciplinary frameworks. In this paper, our intent is to compare the views and practices of environmental educators who pursue ESD from a perspective different from what is occurring in our own constituency. We collected data on curriculum, teaching perspectives and practices to compare an alternative school approach to our local model. As an alternative we chose the Colegio Ambientalista Isaiah Retana Arias (CAIRA), a public school in the local district of Pérez Zeledón in Pedrogoso, Costa Rica. CAIRA is a unique high school in Costa Rica that has designed and implemented a compulsory, school wide environmental curriculum. As a result of our deliberations we identify several issues concerning the implementation of ESD in our community. We address the discipline versus non-discipline placement of ESD, compulsory versus optional ESD courses, teacher preparation and professional development, curriculum development, and the role of place. We conclude with the recommendation for the fusion of the current grade ten science and social studies courses, using ESD as a context, guided by the necessary outcomes from the disciplines, and incorporating a significant local component which puts our young people back into their communities.

Author Biographies

Don Metz, University of Winnipeg

Associate Professor Faculty of Education University of Winnipeg

Barbara McMillan, University of Manitoba

Associate Professor University of Manitoba