The Sustainability and Education Policy Network (SEPN) is a research-based partnership between academic research institutions and national and international organizations.

SEPN understands sustainability as the stewardship of the natural environment in a socially and economically responsible manner that meets the needs of both the present and future generations.

SEPN is funded by a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) Partnership Grant.  Funding includes $1,964,996 from SSHRC and over 1 million in matching cash and in-kind funding from partners (2012-2018).

Visit for more information on SEPN including publications, research briefs, infographics, and more.

Research Project

The research program is unique in its scope and inclusive methodology of engaging multiple communities across primary to tertiary education, regionally and nationally, and via multi-sector consultation and collaboration.

Given the intense interest in sustainability issues across society, and given the early stages of this scholarship in education, this project opens new territory in sustainability-related educational research.

Over the lifetime of the grant and beyond, the Network will examine which existing and new policies and innovations indicate the most promise for enabling educational change for a more sustainable future, including in relation to educational institutions’ approaches to curriculum, research, facilities' operations, governance, and broader engagement with community and place.

SEPN’s core focus is the policy-practice gap. Traditional policy analysis traces policy from development to implementation. SEPN will use practice to critically examine policy and ask how education sustainability policy comes about and might better respond to practice.

SEPN Themes

The research is organized into two subthemes, EC-12 (Subtheme A) and PSE (Subtheme B), and three iterative themes:
  • Theme 1.  Document Analysis involves examining existing policy to understand how current educational policy is engaging with environmental issues and examining existing sustainability policy discourse in education (including policy and assessment frameworks) across provincial Ministries of Education, Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (AANDC), and a range of PSE institutions
  • Theme 2.  Community Engagement comprises a national survey of multiple sectors and communities to examine the relationship between sustainability practices and existing sustainability policy. This theme also involves extensive engagement of communities to study the relationship between practice and sustainability policies in education
  • Theme 3.  Knowledge Mobilization includes organizational learning within SEPN and developing models of exemplary sustainability policy and practice via integration of theme 1 and 2 data and engagement of educational institutions and communities to impact policy and practice across the country

Impacts and Outcomes

  • To create innovative scholarly knowledge through situated and collaborative policy analysis
  • To mobilize new models of exemplary sustainability policy and practice and enable application to decision-making in environmental sustainability education and practice in educational institutions
  • To provide innovative training and mentoring
  • To enable Network participatory organizational learning
  • To create ongoing interdisciplinary and multi-sector national network
  • To contribute to increased interdisciplinary and multi-sector knowledge of Canadian environmental issues and help develop greater sustainability in communities