Do students have anything to say? Student participation in a whole school approach to sustainability


Today, the first article from Ane Torsdottir’s PhD Research on High School student’s partcipation in schools trying to work within a Whole School Approach in Southern Norway, was published in Environmental Education Research. The article, co-authored by her supervising team with Daniel Olsson, Astrid Sinnes and myself, demonstrates how a questionnaire gauging students’ experiences of participation in decision-making at their school can operationalise student participation in a whole school approach (WSA) to education for sustainable development model.

Some 902 students in three upper secondary schools participated in the study by giving their answers to Likert-scale items developed to tap into their experience of participation in the decision-making at their school.

The students identified four distinct pathways of participation:

(i) School and Leadership,

(ii) Teaching and Learning,

(iii) Community Connections, and

(iv) Student Council.

The results are discussed in the light of focus group interviews with eleven of the participants. The student WSA participation questionnaire proved to be a reliable and valid instrument that, together with the student WSA participation model, can be used by school leaders wanting to increase student participation, and by researchers investigating student participation throughout the whole school.

Article link: here

Full citation:Torsdottir A.E, Sinnes A, Olsson D. & Wals, A. (2023) Do students have anything to say? Student participation in a whole school approach to sustainability, Environmental Education Research, DOI: 10.1080/13504622.2023.2213427

While Higher Education is grappling with enormous sustainability challenges Ghent University is about to downsize its successful Green Office

n a time where universities across the globe are trying to figure out how to remain relevant, responsive and responsible in times of climate urgency, biodiversity collapse and rising inequality, Ghent University is about to downsize its infamous Green Office in light of necessary ‘budget cuts’. I have worked with the Ghent Green Office and some of its key members for many years and find it hard to believe. Later this week the university leadership will determine whether it will downsize or continue to fully support some of the most dedicated and capable people and the structures they have created over the years to make sustainability part of the DNA of university and the wider community of Ghent. Together with educators and researchers based at universities across Europe we wrote a letter urging the leadership to rethink its down-sizing plans and to adopt a more visionary and hopeful stance. You can read the letter here: