Ecological footprinting: its potential as a tool for change in preservice teacher education

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O'Gorman, L & Davis, J 2013, 'Ecological footprinting: its potential as a tool for change in preservice teacher education', Environmental Education Research, vol. 19, no.6, pp. 779-791.

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Environmental and sustainability issues pose challenges for society. Although education is seen as being a contributor to addressing sustainability, teacher education has been slow to act in preparing future teachers to teach sustainability. Recent Australian curriculum documents nominate sustainability as one of three cross-curriculum priorities. In one Australian university course, an Ecological Footprint Calculator tool has been employed to challenge preservice early childhood teachers to consider the sustainability of their lifestyles as a means for engaging them in learning and teaching for sustainability. Students enrolled in an integrated arts and humanities subject voluntarily engaged with the online calculator and shared their findings on an electronic discussion forum. These postings then became the basis of qualitative analysis and discussion. Data categories included reactions and reflections on reasons for the ‘heaviness’ of their footprints, student reactions leading to actions to reduce their footprints, reflections on the implications of the footprint results for future teaching, reactions that considered the need for societal change, and reflections on the integration of sustainability with the visual arts. The power of the tool’s application to stimulate interest in sustainability and education for sustainability more broadly in teacher education is explored.

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