Summer 2019 - EDUC 857 G031

Issues and Topics in Environmental Education (5)

Class Number: 4706

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Location: TBA

  • Instructor:

    David Zandvliet
    1 778 782-5680
  • Prerequisites:

    Consent of the instructor.



Examines the origins of environmental education, the range of program offerings, and the educational concepts which appear to underlie them.


Meeting Dates:
May 17, 18, 19;  
June 14, 15, 16;  
August 20, 21, 22, 23  

Meeting Times:
Fridays: 4:30p – 9:00p
Saturdays: 8:30a – 4:30p
Sundays: 8:30a – 4:30p  
August weekdays: 8:30a - 4:30p

Meeting Location:
Various locations within the Lower Mainland (see detailed course schedule)

This course will be of interest to educators interested in environmental or ecological education as it applies to both school-based and informal learning environments. As the course lends itself to a multidisciplinary approach, it is appropriate for educators of all subjects and grade levels and to informal educators of various persuasions.  

Calendar Description:  
The course will explore a variety of different conceptual frameworks and societal perspectives on the environment and address a range of global issues in this regard. A general goal of the course is in reconnecting individuals with the natural and technological environments that sustain them in the emerging post-industrial society. Course activities will include laboratory and research sessions, seminars on important global environmental issues and independent opportunities for student lead research and guided inquiry both campus based (downtown Vancouver) and to other field locations in the Georgia Basin region.   Throughout the course, students will consider multiple perspectives on the goals, values and interdisciplinary nature of environmental education and obtain grounding in models for learning and teaching environmental topics in both school-based and informal settings. Specifically, we will consider education ‘for’, ‘in’ and ‘about’ the environment and apply this knowledge to educational settings.

Course Itinerary

Program Welcome and Orientation (late April, date TBA)
Welcome and Introductions (SRY)
Distribution of Readings

Introduction to Environmental Education (May 17th, 18th, 19th, Surrey Campus, Room 5320)
We begin with our life story (curriculum vitae) of Environmental Education and relate some current issues that will capture hearts and minds. We examine what is Environmental Education and what it could be. This will include:  

May 17th – Welcome, sharing of Environmental artifacts*
May 18th – Introductions, Summary and Overview of the Program, Course Dates, Course Planning.
May 19th– Perspectives on Issues and Environmental Education, a variety of experiential exercises …                   Summary of course readings, etc.  

Community Mapping   (June 14th, 15th, 16th)
(Harbour Centre – Vancouver, Room 1525)

June 14th –  Journal article sharing and presentations / Collaborative writing activities
June 15th –  Place-based Learning and other ‘urban EE’ activities              – Community mapping activities centred on downtown Vancouver
June. 16th – Maps and representations of EE/ESD, debrief and discussion, writing/journaling exercises   

Course Excursion and Portfolio Conference   (Aug. 20thth through Aug 23rd)  
(Camping for Credit –Metro Regional Park – required activity)
Surrey Room 5320 and/or other location TBA (eg. Camp Coyote or Muskrat Meadows Group Camp)  

Collaboratively planned excursion (walkabout) at a nearby location in the Lower mainland region.

We continue with education in and for the environment. An examination of local issues in environmental education and a survey of a variety of formal and informal environmental education programming.  (Please note: there are some minimal risks associated with this activity including encounters with wildlife, insect bites, scratches or abrasions, etc.)  
Aug  20th –  One on one / Consultations  
Aug  21st –  Autobiography vignettes and story-telling
Aug  22nd –  Portfolio Presentations
Aug  23rd –  Environmental explorations and inquiry activities


The coursework aims to develop students’ knowledge or abilities, specifically:   To develop a theoretical rationale and conceptual structure for environmental education as it applies to a variety of school based and informal learning environments

  • To review and evaluate environmental topics in provincial curriculum and locally developed curriculum materials
  • To consider a variety of teaching models/strategies for environmental education (eg. teaching-learning cycle, sensory awareness, creative drama, role-playing, simulation, critical thinking, individual case studies, and concept mapping)
  • To develop an understanding of scientific inquiry (e.g. observing, inferring, predicting, classifying, measuring and recording)
  • To learn concepts important to an understanding of natural and urban environments (e.g. product life cycles, food cycles, water treatment, air quality, land use planning, role of parks / ecological reserves, etc.)
  • To develop an understanding of environmental concepts as they apply to global issues (e.g. human ecology, sustainability, recreation, pollution, conservation, resource management, and other impacts such as consumerism, transportation issues, etc.)


  • Field Notebook and/or Reflective Journal 10%
  • Portfolio Presentation (written and oral) 30%
  • Analysis and Presentation of an Environmental Issue 30%
  • Analysis and Summary of a Professional Journal Article 30%


The course is arranged on a varied and flexible schedule – this will allow for a series of intense immersive experiences early in the course, followed by more time for individual reflection, research and writing towards the latter part of the course. During the field experiences you will be expected to participate in a continuing academic discourse regarding conceptual issues in EE – attendance and participation is a requirement.

Course Assignments

Field Notebook and/or Reflective Journal (10 points)  
Each student is required to maintain a field naturalist’s notebook with plain white paper to use for careful descriptive observations, sketches, reflections, etc.  This notebook is used to record rough notes on all relevant information related to fieldtrips (or field/lab experiments and interviews) done during the course.  Notes could include any of the following: 
  • Purpose/location of the session/class/fieldtrip / service learning
  • Rough Map (if appropriate)
  • List of plants an animals identified
  • Details about topics studied
  • Interview notes, colleagues comments, guest speakers, elders etc.
  • Reflective notions, poetry or expository writing
  • Notes or discussion/conclusions drawn from an experience    
Portfolio Presentation and Paper (30 points)                                
This writing piece will be a synthesis / summary of entries taken from class and service learning experiences or notes (see above) and will form essentially an ‘environmental autobiography’. You will be expected to synthesize and cross-reference your experiences in this course with your past cultural and environmental experiences that have shaped you as a person and as an educator. This ‘autobiography’ may take the form of an essay or series of reflective observations describing your personal environmental history.  You are to describe significant environments or events, no matter how small, which you feel have in some way influenced your concern with the environment.  At the end of the course you will share this work in the form of a creative portfolio of your own design. Others will also creatively share their work with you at the learners’ conference at the end of the course.    

Analysis of an Environmental Issue (30 points)
Review the scientific or popular journals for a current environmental issue or controversy. Summarize the issue noting the important technical points and what is known about the nature of the problem. What is the nature of the controversy? How do different stakeholders view the problem. Write a two page analysis for the article stating and defending your position on the issue. Write another two page analysis for the article from an opposing viewpoint.  Close with a consideration of how you might use Environmental Controversy as an educational strategy.    

Analysis and Presentation of a Professional Article (30 points)
- Brief oral report and Final Paper

Review the professional journals or conference presentations to identify one article related to practical classroom applications: environmental goals, programs, teaching strategies, and/or curriculum materials.  Write a description and analysis for the article. Summarize the article and describe how you might incorporate ideas from the articles into your practice. You should include a sample plan or guide to illustrate how you will implement these ideas.


Students must attend all classes and complete all assignments.



Access to a computer and Internet connection, Notebook or journal, Outdoor gear and some basic camping supplies.


A variety of readings will be selected from the research literature, selected journals and government publications.  These will made available at the first class.


Students will also need to familiarize themselves with the BC EE framework: Province of British Columbia (2007), Environmental Learning and Experience: An Interdisciplinary Guide for Educators.

Graduate Studies Notes:

Important dates and deadlines for graduate students are found here: The deadline to drop a course with a 100% refund is the end of week 2. The deadline to drop with no notation on your transcript is the end of week 3.

Registrar Notes:

SFU’s Academic Integrity web site is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University.