Textbooks as Resources for Education for Sustainable Development: A Content Analysis

Open access


If we intend to successfully integrate Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) in the general educational programs, it is important to utilize available methods and resources. This paper argues that English Language Learning textbooks in Iran have the potential to be useful resources and a viable springboard for the implementation of ESD. For this purpose, the present study explores the content of English textbook series developed by Iranian authors through the lenses of ESD. The framework for analysis was based on UNESCO’s Earth Charter and the Roadmap for Implementing the Global Action Program on ESD. The findings reveal that the themes of sustainability are present in these English textbooks to a good extent. However, the results suggest that there must be a more even distribution of such themes throughout the series. Also, the role of the teacher as a facilitator in developing discussions around such themes is highlighted.

If the inline PDF is not rendering correctly, you can download the PDF file here.

  • Amini M. & Birjandi P. (2012). Gender bias in the Iranian high school EFL textbooks. English Language Teaching5(2) 134–147.

  • Azizifara A. Kooshaa M. & Lotfi A. (2010). An analytical evaluation of Iranian high school ELT textbooks from 1970 to the present. Procedia Social and Behavioral Sciences3 36–44.

  • Bell D. V. J. (2016). Twenty-first century education: Transformative education for sustainability and responsible citizenship. Journal of Teacher Education for Sustainability18(1). 48–56.

  • Cary M. B. (2007). The Earth Charter as a pedagogical tool for sustainability at Yerevan State University Armenia. In M. Vilela & K. Corrigan (Eds.) Good practices using the Earth Charter (pp. 121–126). San José de Costa Rica: UNESCO/ECI.

  • Cutanda G. & Murga-Menoyo M. (2014). Analysis of mythical-metaphorical narratives as a resource for education in the principles and values of sustainability. Journal of Teacher Education for Sustainability16(2) 18–38.

  • Emadian F. Gholami J. & Sarkhosh M. (2018). Towards a sustainable curriculum for ESAP teacher training programs: A profile of ESAP content specialists’ vs. language instructors’ needs. Journal of Teacher Education for Sustainability20(2) 139–157.

  • Gu X. (2015) Evidentiality subjectivity and ideology in the Japanese history textbook. Discourse & Society26(1) 29–51.

  • Hutchinson T. & Torres E. (1999). The textbook as agent of change. ELT Journal48(4) 315–328.

  • Kolbe K. D. (2015). Knowledge attitudes and behavior regarding waste management in a grammar and a comprehensive school in England – results from a school questionnaire. Journal of Teacher Education for Sustainability17(1). 58–71.

  • Marefat F. & Marzban S. (2014). Multimodal analysis of gender representation in ELT textbooks: Reader’s perceptions. Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences98 1093–1099.

  • McCabe A. (2004). Mood and modality in Spanish and English history textbooks: The construction of authority. Text24 1–29.

  • McDevitt B. (2004). Negotiating the syllabus: A win-win syllabus. ELT Journal58(1) 3–9.

  • Nima Farzaneh N. Kohandanib M. & Nejadansaric D. (2014). A textbook evaluation of socio-cultural contexts in Top Notch series. Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences98 472–481.

  • Ovsienko L. V. (2007). Reorienting Tatarstan’s educational system towards education for sustainability. In M. Vilela & K. Corrigan (Eds.) Good practices using the Earth Charter (pp. 54–59). San José de Costa Rica: Unesco/ECI.

  • Rieckmann M. (2018). Key themes in Education for Sustainable Development. In A. Leicht J. Heiss & W. J. Byun (Eds.) Issues and trends in Education for Sustainable Development (pp. 61–85). Paris: UNESCO.

  • Shinabe N. (2018). Revealing a hidden curriculum in educational discourses: A study of the representation of Europe and Asia in Spanish and Japanese school textbooks. Discourse & Society 29(6) 674–690.

  • The Earth Charter (2000). The Earth Charter in action 2000 annual report. Retrieved from http://earthcharter.org/virtual-library2/the-earth-charter-in-action-2000-annual-report/

  • UNESCO (2012). From green economies to green societies: UNESCO’s commitment to sustainable development. Paris: UNESCO.

  • UNESCO (2014). UNESCO Roadmap for Implementing the Global Action Programme on Education for Sustainable Development. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0023/002305/230514e.pdf

  • Zarei G. & Khalessib M. (2011). Cultural load in English language textbooks: An analysis of interchange series. Procedia Social and Behavioral Sciences15 294–301.

Journal information
Impact Factor

CiteScore 2018: 1.65

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2018: 0.255
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2018: 1.496

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 0 0 0
Full Text Views 134 134 37
PDF Downloads 98 98 34