Comparing education for sustainable development in initial teacher education across four countries

Neus (Snowy) Evans, Hilary Inwood, Beth Christie, Eva Ärlemalm-Hagsér

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to undertake a cross-comparative inquiry into Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) related to governance, initiatives and practices in initial teacher education (ITE) across four countries with very different contexts – Sweden, Scotland, Canada and Australia. It provides insights into issues arising internationally, implications for ESD in ITE and offers learnings for other countries and contexts.

Design/methodology/approach: A cross-comparative study design with overarching themes and within-case descriptions was applied to consider, compare and contrast governance characteristics, initiatives and practices from each context.

Findings: The approaches to governance, initiatives and practices that each country adopts are unique yet similar, and all four countries have included ESD in ITE to some extent. Comparing and contrasting approaches has revealed learnings focussed on ESD in relation to governance and regulation, practices and leadership.

Research limitations/implications: Making comparisons between different contexts is difficult and uncertain and often misses the richness and nuances of the individual sites under study. However, it remains an important endeavour as the challenges of embedding ESD in ITE will be better understood and overcome if countries can learn from one another.

Originality/value: Scrutinising different approaches is valuable for broadening views about possibilities and understanding how policies and initiatives translate in practice.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages22
JournalInternational Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education (IJSHE)
Early online date16 Jun 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 16 Jun 2021


  • initial teacher education
  • preservice teacher education
  • education for sustainable development
  • learning for sustainability
  • environment education for sustainability
  • sustainability


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