People of SFU

SFU professor named to Order of Canada for innovation in environmental education

August 17, 2022
SFU professor emeritus Milton McClaren has been named to the Order of Canada for his contributions in the field of environmental education.

Milton McClaren, an emeritus professor in the Faculty of Education at SFU, has been named to the Order of Canada—one of Canada’s highest civilian honours—for his pioneering work in the field of environmental education.

“SFU gave me the opportunity to open new doors and try crazy things,” says McClaren, who began at SFU in a joint biology and education appointment after completing his PhD at the University of British Columbia.

During his 51 years at the university, McClaren has worked on many projects, from helping develop a state-of-the-art information computer messaging system in a time before the internet to supporting field schools around the world as they develop environmental education programming.

The Order of Canada is one of Canada's highest civilian honours to recognize people who make "extraordinary contributions to the nation.” And according to McClaren’s colleagues—such as David Zandvliet, a professor in SFU’s Faculty of Education who has worked closely with McClaren—the honour is well-deserved.

Says Zandvliet, “Because of his extensive work, McClaren is known as one of the founders of environmental education—it was really him working closely with other colleagues who started environmental education initiatives in B.C. in the early 70s.”

“In my mind,” he adds, “he is one of those people that really models what a colleague and mentor should be. He focused his life on making the lives of teachers and practitioners better.”

Over the years, McClaren has continued contributing to his field. He was involved in the development of the environmental education programs at both SFU and Royal Roads University, and he and Zandvliet are currently writing a book on the history of environmental education in B.C.

Along with the Order of Canada, McClaren is also a recipient of the B.C. Minister’s Environment Award, the Canadian EECOM Award, the Canadian Wildlife Federation’s Certificate of Merit and the Taft Campus Award from the University of Northern Illinois for his work in the field of environmental education.

For his part, McClaren is thankful for those involved in his nomination and to those with whom he has worked with in projects throughout his life.

“I was extremely surprised when I got the phone call saying I had been named as a member,” McClaren says. “It was a huge honour and I had no idea how extensive the process is in being nominated, or that people were even nominating me at all.”

“When I joined the faculty, SFU was a very new university that was doing very new things to educational programs in B.C. During my appointment I had generous support for the research and program development that my students, colleagues and I were doing. That support, along with SFU’s attitude toward risk and innovation, played a significant role in helping me get to where I wanted to be in my career and where I am now.”