Making sense of frustration and complexity when introducing sustainability in teacher education


  • Marianne Ødegaard University of Oslo
  • Erik Knain University of Oslo
  • Ole Andreas Kvamme University of Oslo
  • Elin Sæther University of Oslo


Emneord (Nøkkelord):

environmental and sustainability education, teacher education, complexity, interdisciplinarity, higher education



Teacher educators must question whether we are sufficiently preparing student teachers to educate children and young people who will have to cope with climate and environ­mental crises. This article reports on the introduction of environmental and sustain­ability education (ESE) in a large Norwegian teacher education institution and is framed by the institution’s existing formal structures, practices, and local resources. We explore what opportunities, tensions, and obstacles emerged during a one-week intervention to reorient teacher education toward sustainability, drawing on several data sources, such as group interviews, surveys, and video recordings of student teacher group work. Our analyses emphasize the voices of student teachers in the analyses of this intervention. The participating student teachers had to recognize and negotiate complexity along both institutional and thematic dimensions. This complexity was related to both interdisci­plinarity and sustainability. Authenticity also surfaced as an important concern because some of the student teachers questioned whether ESE in schools would contain similar interdisciplinary processes. The study indicates that structural transformations are needed in order for teacher education programs to accommodate both sustainability and interdisciplinarity as the student teachers are introduced to tools and resources that support their inquiries into complexity. If student teachers become familiar with inter­disciplinary approaches, they will be better equipped to meet the complexity of sustain­ability, which involves ontological, normative and political concerns. Our attempt to introduce ESE to our institution’s teacher education programs has not led to large-scale change, and ESE remains a limited perspective in these programs. However, given the challenges of global warming and the loss of biodiversity, we contend that more signifi­cant interventions are urgently needed.




Hvordan referere

Ødegaard, M., Knain, E., Kvamme, O. A., & Sæther, E. (2021). Making sense of frustration and complexity when introducing sustainability in teacher education. Acta Didactica Norden, 15(3), 23 sider.