The Journal of Curriculum Studies has developed a Virtual Special Issue [VSI] on curriculum challenges related to environmental education.

The VSI draws on the work of the Journal on curriculum and  environmental education since the early 1970s, and offers a ‘long view’ on key issues and challenges.

Alan Reid’s Introduction, says that editors delved into the Journal’s back catalogue to identify  papers that illustrate key challenges from and for environmental education.

Reid says that “These focus on how we might understand and debate:

  1. ‘mainstream’ versus ‘alternative’ curriculum orientations
  2. the place and critique of ‘instrumentalism’ in curriculum policy and practice, and
  3. whether a particular form of ‘extensionism’ in reworking curriculum should be accepted or challenged, given that it presents a double-edged sword for any particular focus to curriculum.”

It ends:

“We trust the papers in this Virtual Special Issue help illuminate these questions and challenges, and much more besides.  On a personal note, preparing the VSI has been a strong reminder of the importance of remaining cognisant of ‘where you have come from, for where you might go’.  In other words, from the standpoint of working within an academic domain, any account of the past through to the most speculative of futures of a field of study must surely include a recognition of the continuing need to name and discuss intellectual sympathies as much as the value of disciplined thought; as it is together, and self-critically, that we further each other’s and our own understandings of curriculum challenges for and from environmental education.”

All such collections are partial, and this is no exception, but some of the older papers are of considerable interest, particularly in relation to how ideas develop over time.  Beginning at the beginning might just be the way to go, and Alan Reid’s editorial a good guide.


  1. Hi,
    I’m a primary trained teacher in Australia and have been working in education contexts for over 10 years. I have a first class Hons degree in education and have almost completed my Master’s in Education. I’m currently in the process of pulling a research proposal together for my PhD which I hope to study for in London.
    I have a very broad understanding of Education for Sustainability policy in the Australian context but am unfamiliar with England’s curriculum – apart from knowing that there are similar ‘essentialist’ underpinnings – standardised testing, national curriculum, etc.
    I’m of the understanding that the National curriculum has been slimmed down and that this has taken some focus of educating for Sustainability?
    If you could inform me further – is there a clear sequence of skills in the Sustainability curriculum? Is it mandated? Is up to the school’s and teachers to take on educating for Sustainability if they wish to? Is EfS covered in Science? I’d really appreciate it.
    Many thanks,

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