Improving Sustainability Education Policy through Research Partnerships: Reflections and Analysis from New York City

Pizmony-Levy, Oren; McDermott, Meredith; Copeland, Thaddeus T.

This paper examines an ongoing research partnership between the New York City Department of Education Office of Sustainability and Teachers College, Columbia University. Similar to other global cities like London and Hong Kong, New York City recently initiated a groundbreaking effort to address the long-term challenges the city faces relating to climate change and sustainability. Now in its fifth year, the research partnership strives to improve school engagement with sustainability through the development of research-based knowledge and evidence. This paper examines the partnership’s outcomes and assesses the ways in which policymakers use these results to inform policy and practice. Two lines of educational research—the application of improvement science and research use—are utilized to contextualize this work, which concludes with lessons learned and suggestions for potential future research.

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More About This Work

Academic Units
International and Comparative Education
Published Here
March 8, 2019


Oren Pizmony-Levy is an Assistant Professor of International and Comparative Education at Teachers College, Columbia University. His research interests lie in the areas of comparative sociology of education, globalization and transnational sociology. Through diverse set of research methods (quantitative, qualitative and social network analysis), he studies the roots and impact of global educational movements – including international large-scale assessments, environmental and sustainability education, and LGBT education. His recent publications appeared in Comparative Education Review; Oxford Review of Education; and Globalisation, Societies and Education.

Meredith McDermott is the Director of Sustainability for the NYC Department of Education, overseeing programs such as NYC Solar Schools, Zero Waste Schools, NYC Demand Response Program, and extensive training/professional learning programs for technical staff, teachers, administration, and students. Prior to DOE, Meredith directed sustainability efforts for Chicago Public Schools as well managed an immersive science program for elementary through college students in San Diego. She has Masters degrees in Environmental Management/Sustainability and Marine Biology from the University of Queensland in Australia and a B.S. in Biology (Environmental) from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

Thaddeus Copeland is the Deputy Director of Sustainability for New York City Department of Education. Previously, Thad managed an environmental education program that worked with K-12 NYC students on recycling and zero waste programs. Thad holds a Master degree in Sustainable Development from SIT Graduate Institute in Brattleboro, Vermont and a Post Graduate Certificate in Sustainability Strategies from The New School in New York City. Thaddeus oversees the implementation of a number of school sustainability programs that support Sustainability Coordinators and strengthens the relationship between school facilities and education.