The Construction of Teacher Identity in Education for Sustainable Development: The Case of Chinese ESP Teachers

Wenjin Qi, Nadezda Sorokina, Yan Liu


As the education for sustainable development (ESD) has been advocated in diverse educational contexts, increasingly more attention has been paid to facilitate teachers as the promoters of such educational practice in higher education. Yet, less sufficient research has focused on the ESP (English for Specific Purposes) teachers, who are regarded as the pioneers of ESD practice, and their professional development. This study aims to promote teacher professional development in the area of ESD practice by investigating the identity construction of eight ESP teachers from a northern Chinese university. Drawing on a model of ESP teacher identity, the authors conducted life-history interviews concerning the five frames of identity construction. The results reveal a complex picture of ESP teachers’ professional identity construction. It is revealed that a majority of participants claimed a sense of achievement in their teaching of ESP skills and sustainability competences in graduates for the local socioeconomic development. However, their professional identification is undermined by such factors as the marginalization of ESP as a legitimate discipline, lack of acknowledgement of ESD in curriculum design, and teachers’ professional insecurity resulted from their professional incompetence and low academic status. This study provides a new and innovative perspective on the issue of ESD development in higher education.

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International Journal of Higher Education
ISSN 1927-6044 (Print) ISSN 1927-6052 (Online) Email:

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