Date of Submission



The research intention is to identify the characteristics of an ecologically sustainable contemporary Catholic primary school and the conditions that support the development of such a school community. The literature review showed there is a clear mandate from the Catholic Church to consider ecological conversion as integral to its evangelising mission, a mission that is at the heart of Catholic education, including the school. An extensive body of educational literature, including philosophy of education and curriculum frameworks, identified environmental awareness and responsibility as mandatory outcomes for all students. The literature study defined and described ecological conversion, sustainable education, environmental education and related conceptual understandings. The literature study also provided examples of strategies to guide the strategic implementation of these understandings within the total learning program of a school. From examples found in the literature, a framework, Steps in Becoming an Environmentally Active Catholic Primary School, incorporating the specifically Catholic religious dimension, was developed by the researcher to provide benchmarks and indicators against which a school's progress in journeying towards ecological sustainability could be evaluated. This qualitative, constructionist study incorporated some elements of Grounded Theory in gathering and analysing data from within two Australian Catholic primary case study schools recognised for their commitment and good practice in sustainable education. From the analysis of the data gathered through interviews, focus groups and participant observation, the distinctive characteristics of the two schools were identified and their stage of development evaluated against the framework Steps in Becoming an Environmentally Active Catholic Primary School.;In addition, the factors that had supported school development and the factors that were barriers to that development were named. From the study, conclusions about the nature of an ecologically sustainable Catholic primary school were drawn and recommendations made about how best to support the development of such a school.


School of Religious Education

Document Type


Access Rights

Open Access


364 pages

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Faculty of Education