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Sharon Friesen
Teachers as Designers


The design approach is demanding for teachers, but it also creates results and has far-reaching effects. It requires educators to think differently and represents a shift from the acquisition of static “know that” knowledge to understanding knowledge as dynamic, organised in living, developing fields adapting to new circumstances, evidence, and discoveries. This presentation focuses on the ways in which practicing teachers have developed adaptive expertise through a design approach to their practice.

Sharon is a Professor in the Werklund School of Education at the University of Calgary. She is also President of the Galileo Educational Network. Previously, she served as Vice Dean of the Werklund School of Education for more than 7 years. Her research interests include the ways in which K–12 educational structures, curriculum, and learning must be reinvented for a knowledge and learning society. She draws upon the learning sciences to study (1) the promotion of deep intellectual engagement; (2) learning environments that promote innovative pedagogies requiring sustained work with powerful ideas; (3) the pervasiveness of networked digital technologies that open up new ways of knowing, leading, teaching, working, and living in the world; and (4) the ways in which leadership practices and orientations need to change for a learning society. She has co-authored five books. Sharon has received numerous awards for her research and teaching practices.



Sara Tkachuk
Learning to Lead


In our first years as educators, we are faced with challenges, many of which can never be anticipated. With the help of exceptional school leaders, however, the anxiety can ease, the workload feels lighter, and we learn. This presentation will focus on the ways that strong leadership can instill leadership skills in beginning teachers, and how much change can happen from the relationships that are built between school leaders and the people who look up to them.

Sara Tkachuk is a member of the first graduating class of Mount Royal University’s Bachelor of Education program. For the past 4 years, she has been working at Banded Peak School in Bragg Creek, a school known as “a gem in the woods.” In this time, she has planned design thinking challenges, encouraged student inquiries to guide learning, and collaborated with school leaders to foster student leadership. With compassion, kindness, and understanding at the heart of her teaching philosophy, she works with students in Grades 3 through 8 to create meaningful, real-life learning opportunities.



Gerald Farthing
Why Education for Sustainable Development?


Dr. Gerald Farthing began working for the Manitoba, Canada, government in 1984 as a Senior Policy Analyst. He joined the Manitoba Department of Education in 1988 and was Deputy Minister of Education from 2004 to 2016. He has been instrumental in embedding Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) across the K–12 curricula in Manitoba. This included building partnerships, engaging with local leaders and communities, and developing curricula. Manitoba is considered a worldwide leader with respect to ESD, with many of its programs emulated elsewhere.

Farthing represented the Council of Ministers Education Canada on the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe Steering Committee on Education for Sustainable Development from 2005 to 2016, serving as Chair from 2011 to 2016. He also was Honourary Advisor to Learning for a Sustainable Future, a non-profit Canadian organization created in 1991 to integrate sustainability education into Canada’s education system.

ESD is about teaching our kids what they need to know, and be able to do, to live in a more sustainable way. The 2005–2014 Decade of Education for Sustainable Development was an initiative of the UN to encourage countries to integrate ESD into all aspects of their education systems: elementary, secondary and post-secondary, vocational, and adult learning.

ESD was one of three top priorities in the Manitoba Department of Education from approximately 2006 to 2016.