Reflecting on practice in sustainable education classrooms: COVID-19 tales of hope




Disruption, new materialisms, sustainability pedagogy, hope


Social and ecological issues like climate change, biodiversity loss, sustainable development, inequality, and COVID-19 have changed and are changing the world. These realities have profoundly impacted peoples’ perspectives about the future and our human-nature relations. Adding to this mix of disruptions COVID-19 has changed student engagement with sustainability agendas. COVID-19 has increased sensitivity to borders, control, containment, personal health, and wellbeing. This shift in focus and attention to the individual moves against the sensibilities observed in sustainability education. It is at this juncture this paper offers reflections by three Australian sustainability educators who taught during COVID-19. We have come up with three provocations to think with disruption: phronesis, world views and entanglement. These themes, critical to the pedagogies of sustainability educators across the globe, allowed us to pivot around the implications and opportunities presented as we taught our way through this period. 


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Author Biographies

  • Dr Theresa Ashford, University of the Sunshine Coast

    Dr Theresa Ashford is a Lecturer in Geography and Sustainability at UniSC whose passion is exploring human-nature relations through a geo-ethical lens. Her undergraduate and post graduate education is in Geography and spans science, human and cultural geography domains. She has worked in the regional planning field in Canada and her Masters research explored the use and role of public spaces in the support and construction of homeless punk youth identities in Winnipeg, Canada. Her work with homeless youth led her to change careers and move into Senior Education, where she taught Geography and History.

    Dr Ashford’s PhD research (2018, Education, UQ) used Actor-Network Theory (ANT) to investigate the emergence of digital ethics in 1:1 classrooms and tracing the role of technology mediating, supporting and translating student behaviour and understandings. This interest in ANT translates into all her geography and sustainability research where she studies human-non-human relations and ethical performances across different applications including habitat protection and conservation (Koala); decarbonisation; and teaching climate change.

    Dr Ashford is a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (SFHEA) and is keenly interested in ethical and socially just pedagogies, nurturing future-oriented thinking, and the shift required to teach in the Anthropocene.

  • Dr Sonja Kuzich, Curtin University

    Dr Kuzich is a Senior Lecturer at Curtin and has been working with students at both undergraduate and postgraduate level in the primary and secondary education courses. She is interested in transformative pedagogies, sustainability and teaching climate change. She is supervising Honours students and currently supervising M Phil, Ed D and PhD students. She is a committed and innovative educator, has published widely in the scholarship of learning and teaching and has contributed to the development of curriculum in a number of units within the primary and secondary education courses.

  • Dr Francisco Gelves-Gomez, University of Tasmania

    Francisco is an Environmental Geographer whose research interests lie at the interface between the natural and social sciences. Much of his work is focused on critical aspects of biodiversity conservation, the production of knowledge about the environment, and how this knowledge is shaped by and influences the world we live in. His research has delved into the various ways in which human interactions with the natural world are conceived and enacted. He also studies complex socio-ecological systems, more-than-human geographies, and the application of these forms of thinking for management and governance of land and sea.



Data Availability Statement

This is a reflective paper, and these are thoughts and insights of the authors. We would be more than happy to be contacted and to trace these ideas further. There is no data set available.

How to Cite

Reflecting on practice in sustainable education classrooms: COVID-19 tales of hope. (2024). Journal of University Teaching and Learning Practice, 21(3).