TND in Research in Early Childhood EfS

Transnational Dialogues in Research in Early Childhood Education for Sustainability


The Transnational Dialogues in Research in Early Childhood Education for Sustainability (TND) was initiated by Julie Davis and Eva Johansson in 2010, when a group of academics from Queensland University of Technology, University of Stavanger and others gathered to discuss the field of Early Childhood Education for Sustainability (ECEfS).

This first meeting of what was to become known as ‘the TND’ occurred in Stavanger, Norway. The group was established for the purposes of growing collaboration and research in ECEfS, to address the research ‘hole’ identified by Davis in her seminal 2009 paper, and thus, to drive policy and pedagogical change within the international early childhood education field.

Since 2010, the TND has met regularly and networked to build sustained dialogues and research capacities. Three further TNDs have occurred – in Brisbane, Australia (2011), Stavanger, Norway (2015) and Victoria, Canada (2017). Each meeting has involved varying groups of approximately 20 participants from countries such as Norway, Canada, Australia, the UK, Sweden, New Zealand, Norway, the USA, Turkey, Japan and South Korea. Gatherings are built on the premise that, to grow ECEfS research, one needs to grow the researchers. As such, the TND has promoted capacity building through international networking, author and project collaborations and up-skilling in ideas, theories and research practices, with a strong focus on research outputs.

Over the life of the TND, a research text has been published (Davis & Elliott, 2014), with a second volume now in preparation for 2020 publication, a special issue of IJEC, numerous other papers and chapters, and multiple presentations/symposia etc. at national and international conferences have resulted.

The purpose of TND

TND participants are committed to early childhood education as crucial to lifelong learning for sustainability. We strongly argue that early childhood education is an essential place to instigate the reorienting, rebuilding and reinventing of our environmental ethics and relationships and changing cultures towards sustainable living. While, thanks to initiatives such as TND, research in ECEfS and practitioner enthusiasm for sustainability are certainly growing, there is still much work to do to progress the field.

Ongoing issues to be addressed include children’s active participation, pedagogical change, national policies, environmentally ethical leadership, and in-service and pre-service training. Importantly, the TND provides opportunities for participants to share different perspectives through diverse cultural and environmental lenses to both inform and mobilise ECEfS more broadly. Rather than highlighting our cultural and environmental differences, TND participants acknowledge that we must work together across international boundaries to find common ground to encourage shifts within our own diverse contexts.

TND meetings, occurring approximately every 2 years, have attracted a core group of researchers along with an ever-changing and expanding community of colleagues. The changing location of the Dialogues has led to a geographic and cultural dynamic, which injects new perspectives on research and practice in ECEfS. This is one of the strengths of the TND. Every time we meet, we are challenged by new perspectives, experiences and lenses through which to view our field, mitigating the risk that we might become anchored down by static ways of knowing about sustainability. As researchers, we need regular opportunities for our ideas to be challenged and encouraged. It’s rare to experience an ever-evolving and expanding, culturally-diverse and yet supportive context in which this can happen. For genuine change to take place, people need to be exposed to new ways of looking at the world and new ways of responding to the challenge of sustainability, leading both researchers and practitioners beyond our taken for granted ways of being and thinking. We believe the TND plays a unique and critically important role in this regard.


Who this is for

The Transnational Dialogues in Research in Early Childhood Education for Sustainability participants are a mixture of both experienced and early career researchers and research students, and this provides opportunities for intergenerational learning and the potential for the gatherings to continue into the future as new participant leaders emerge.

The TND has been seen as a welcoming space for ideas to be shared and challenged in a supportive, nurturing environment. The TND model offers the keys to new and emerging academics, extending social, intellectual and cultural capital to the next generation of researchers.

More information

If you are interested in participating in the Transnational Dialogues in Research in Early Childhood Education for Sustainability community, please contact:

Dr Lyndal O’Gorman

Dr Sue Elliott

Recent publications in ECEfS

AAEE supports the Transnational Dialogues in Research in Early Childhood Education for Sustainability project by providing a platform for hosting this information and encouraging collaboration.