The Beginnings

IEL has its roots in the BC Working Group and Network on Sustainability Education. In response to the United Nations’ Decade for Education for Sustainable Development, the BC Working Group was founded in 2006 in partnership with Environment Canada. The BC Working Group created an online community of practice and network called Walking the Talk. Here, teachers, practitioners, and organizations can collaborate and share educational research and tools.

In 2007, we partnered with many groups across the education sector including the B.C. Ministry of Education to create a new provincial framework for K-12 environmental education called Environmental Learning and Experience: An Interdisciplinary Guide for Teachers. For more info (and the French version), please click here.

We then hosted the How Sustainability Education? Solutions Summit in June 2009. We asked participants how we can build a cohesive movement for sustainability education in B.C., and came up with eight major themes. For more info, please see the summit report here.

Regional Centre for Expertise

In recognition of its excellence in community dialogue, network development, and stakeholder collaboration, the United Nations designated the BC Working Group as a Regional Centre for Expertise on Education for Sustainable Development for the BC-North Cascades region in early 2010.

A Regional Centre for Expertise (RCE) is a network of formal and informal education organizations delivering education for sustainable development to local and regional communities. Globally, the RCE network has over 80 RCE’s and continues to grow.

The Founding and Present

Building on their momentum of success, members decided to expand to incorporate more research on EE best practices in communities, schools, post-secondary institutions throughout BC. Thus, the Institute for Environmental Learning was created in 2010, with approval from the Simon Fraser University Senate. The Institute takes over and continues in the footsteps of the BC Working Group. By definition, the Institute is a broad collaborative of institutional and interdisciplinary partners. Since then, we have hosted and helped organize professional development workshops for teachers on infusing K-12 schooling with environmental learning.