Environment dean challenges current sustainability education practices in new book

January 31, 2023

The Future of Sustainability Education at North American Universities, explores sustainability education and offers recommendations for higher education institutions to help students better understand how to advance sustainability.

Editor of the book and dean of SFU’s Faculty of Environment, Naomi Krogman, was intrigued by the challenges universities face to approach and keep up with sustainability education, given its growing role in everyday work. 

“I wanted to understand what the most innovative and creative approaches were to teach higher education students about sustainability, to equip them to be problem-solvers,” says Krogman.

The book’s contributors bring forward a wide range of knowledge from biophysical and socio-cultural sciences to education policy and environmental studies to suggest that more integration is needed by institutions to teach sustainability, help students tackle pressing world issues, embrace experimentation, and foster meaningful involvement with local communities. 

“There is a sea of change coming to make sustainability and care for our sustenance base, the environment, important for all academic programs, and this book is a part of that change,” says Krogman.

Krogman emphasizes the unique and timely nature of the book, noting that the scope spans all of North America while focusing on the near future — 2023 – 2033. The book also presents positions about the future of sustainability in higher education that are not often discussed. 

“We need new models for changing how we develop academic programming around sustainability challenges, embed experiential learning, and reward creative and innovative pedagogy,” says Krogman.

With sustainability increasingly on the radar of higher education institutions, and the influence these institutions have on future leaders, there is a growing need to reassess how the topic is taught. 

“The book features many pathways which would teach students how to apply the best analytical skills to a problem in a specific time and context,” says Krogman. “My hope is that the people who read this book attempt these more integrated approaches.”