OSS9103 – Addressing the Climate Emergency through Education

Course content

The notion that climate change education is crucial to redirecting teaching and learning in the face of today’s climate emergency is now widely established and accepted. Yet despite broad agreement among experts, citizens, educationalists and activists about (i) its necessity within a suite of prevention, mitigation and adaptation strategies, and (ii) a need to focus on ensuring strategic (rather than piecemeal) action, there can appear to be little consensus in public, political and academic spheres about: 
a) what should and shouldn’t happen in climate change education, be that day-by-day or over the longer term,
b) who is responsible for ensuring quality climate change education takes place, 
c) how to bring about change in educators’ practices to ensure climate change education is educational, fit for purpose, and effective,
d) the intended and unintended outcomes of the current provision and reach of climate change education on those involved in it, as well as those beyond it, and
e) what and how to assess, evaluate and research climate change education.

Drawing on studies of educational theory and practice, child development to organisational learning, examinations of the influence of family, culture, social networks and settings, critiques of policy documents and textbooks, the role of social movements and public engagement (and much more besides), this course exemplifies how research is crucial to addressing points (a-e).

The course will identify and assess various:
• starting points for addressing the climate emergency through education
• approaches to climate change education (and distinguish between what works, might work and doesn't work)
• influences on educator beliefs, motivations, professional development, and practices
• factors shaping values, beliefs, knowledge and action among learners and through schools, and
• responses in universities, including institutional priorities, student experiences, and teaching and research opportunities.

Key considerations in this course include the developing focus on the significance of ‘pyropedagogies’ - what is expected of education 'when our house is on fire' (Greta Thunberg) and hopeful ‘practice architectures’ for addressing the contemporary climate emergency through education. Lectures and workshops will underscore the value of the cross-fertilisation of ideas, by working with insights from many disciplines in ensuring climate change education is fit for purpose.

Learning outcome

After completing the course, students will be able to:
a) identify and assess the wide-ranging ways in which the climate emergency has been addressed through education to date, alongside factors to consider for the prospects of current and new proposals,
b) assess the theoretical and empirical bases for these approaches, drawing on a broad base of disciplinary perspectives when examining their fitness-for-purpose, priority and likely impact,
c) identify key findings and insights that contribute to the development of more meaningful responses and hope-filled action in and through educational settings,
d) articulate their own research issues, dispositions, preferences and perspectives in relation to the challenge of addressing climate change through education.


Teaching will be comprised of paired lectures and workshop activities that address the following themes for the course:
1. Starting points for addressing the climate emergency through education
2. What works (… might work - and won’t work) in and as climate change education?
3. Influences on educator beliefs, motivations, professional development, and practices about climate change
4. What shapes climate change-related values, beliefs, knowledge and action among learners and through schools?
5. Responses to the climate emergency before, during and after school - and around the world: redirecting educational and institutional priorities, lifelong learning, and research opportunities?

Facts about this course






Summer 2021

Teaching language