Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Cross-national influence of the term sustainable development upon the field of environmental education: Comparison between the United States and Japan
by To, Kimiharu, Ph.D., State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry, 2015, 184; 10105244
Abstract (Summary)

This study conducted an international comparative study between Japan and the United States to examine both problems and possibilities in the use of the term ‘sustainable development’ (SD) among environmental educators. In so doing, this study applied a multilevel analysis—national, state/prefecture, and individual levels—to assess SD’s overall influences. Such a comparative elaboration of the individual perceptions, as well as the policy contexts, helps in comprehending both the conceptual and practical obstacles, and their possibilities, when using an internationally-promoted term. I found that respondents of both countries tend to have a firm grounding in the field of EE, and make only supplementary use of the notions of sustainable development and ESD, primarily for emphasizing social and economic dimensions of environmental issues.

Some of the notable results are as follows: 1. Environmental educators of both countries are still hesitant to embrace ESD or Education for Sustainability in their teachings; 2. Environmental educators of both countries, while not rejecting the concepts of sustainable development and ESD, are instead operationalizing them to punctuate social and economic issues; and 3. Most environmental educators perceive EE as being larger and more comprehensive than ESD. This is demonstrated in the survey results in which none of the American environmental educators perceived EE as being smaller than ESD.

Implications from the results are as follows: 1. The ‘shift’ in discourse from EE to ESD appears to be incomplete, contrary to some recent observations. I believe that this is because the field of EE, while showing some differences at the national level, has been affirming the incorporation of social and economic processes into teaching practice through attention to laws, literacy plans, guidelines, and conferences. The individual educators appear to be influenced by these shifting emphases, professional networks and policy contexts.

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Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Moran, Sharon D., Parker, Andrea F.
Commitee: Briggs, Russell D., Folta, Elizabeth, Mason, Robert J., Vidon, Elizabeth S.
School: State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry
Department: Environmental Science
School Location: United States -- New York
Source: DAI-A 77/09(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Environmental education, Education Policy, Sustainability
Keywords: Education for sustainable development, Environmental education, Japan, Sustainable development, United Nations
Publication Number: 10105244
ISBN: 978-1-339-68730-8
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