Following the UN Earth Summit in 1992, Eco-Schools was established with the aim of engaging pupils in the environmental management of their schools. Participation in Eco Schools involves the implementation of an environmental management system (EMS). Education for sustainable development (ESD) was also an outcome theme of the Earth Summit and EMS have the potential to engage pupils in effective ESD through active engagement with their environment. However, there are many challenges to both EMS and ESD implementation in schools including lack of time and lack of resources and funding. EMS were originally designed for industry and have proven to be an effective tool in this sector. Here, many of the challenges faced by schools are not encountered as there are specialists appointed to implementing and overseeing these systems. Therefore, there is a wealth of tacit knowledge in this sector in the design and implementation of EMS. The purpose of this study was to explore how schools can be supported in EMS implementation, for both the management of the school and as a tool for ESD. To utilise the existing expertise in industry, a model was created that extends communities of practice (CoP) theory. Within this Extended CoPs model, expertise from researchers at Waterford Institute of Technology, facilities personnel at Bausch + Lomb and teachers at a local primary school was utilised to support and enhance EMS implementation at the school. The research was set within the pragmatic paradigm and to maximise participation from all social actors, a transdisciplinary approach was applied. The methodology consisted of mixed-methods, with an embedded case study used to explore the feasibility of the model. The findings of this research demonstrate the ways in which knowledge was transferred from the facilities team to the school. This knowledge was brokered by the researcher across two boundary types. At the semantic boundary, knowledge was translated so that the perspective of the facilities team could be understood by the teachers. At the pragmatic boundary, the knowledge was transformed for new applications at the school site. The findings show that when the participating teachers were supported in their practice, but had full control over the direction of the EMS, they created meaningful learning experiences for their pupils. The teachers reported increased participation in the EMS by both themselves and their pupils. Their ESD knowledge increased and a number of the teachers reported a personal shift towards more sustainable lifestyles. Using the empirical findings from the case study, the Extended CoPs model was reconceptualised as a Transdisciplinary CoP for ESD. This contributes to the field of CoPs theory and the case study contributes to knowledge in EMS and ESD. When given the opportunity to develop their EMS with the support of the researcher and facilities team, the teachers took on the role of education expert. They consciously sought to identify all teaching and learning opportunities that the EMS had to offer and used the building and grounds to support this learning.
|Publication status||Unpublished - 2019|
- School practice, Partnership model