About the Climate & environmental justice in education course

Course Background & Focus

The global climate continues to dramatically change as the result of human activity—with an expanding range of devastating effects around the world (e.g., widespread flooding, heatwaves and animal die-offs, mega-fires, increased and more intense hurricanes, extended droughts and desertification). Working through consensus reports, scientists have argued that nation states disproportionately impacting climate, like the US, have a small number of years to make massive and unprecedented changes to our global energy infrastructure to limit the ill effects of climate change to moderate levels. There are also growing calls for reparations to the Global South in response to the devastating long-term and ongoing effects of climate colonialism and global racial empire.

Education becomes a crucial context to support societal transformation towards social justice, harm reduction, and ecological flourishing. The climate change movement—and any associated justice-focused engagement through education—need to directly involve the promotion of Indigenous sovereignty, racial justice, socioeconomic justice, community resilience initiatives, and civic engagement in support of just responses.

In this graduate seminar, the group is self-organizing to explore such issues as:

Course Approach

The participants in this course will collectively explore the following anchor texts:

Additional readings, like those linked above, will come from:

Emergent Course Co-Design: The course is intentionally designed to be responsive to emergent topics based on the interests and expertise of its participants and to developments in broader society. We will function like a research group navigating between individual interests and collective pursuits through various exploratory modes of engagement in the work. We will collectively work to reframe and deepen our collective understanding of urgent climate and environmental justice work. We focus on how best to design educational contexts writ large as a means of supporting the cultural, political, economic, and social transformations that are needed to be responsive to climate and environmental crises in just and flourishing ways. Together, we will craft the readings and activities of the course as it unfolds.

Culminating Project: Additionally, participants in the course will explore personally meaningful, local projects of significance to them and their communities. There are many ways to engage these matters through education. Students will be encouraged to explore these kinds of effort and other educational strategies of engagement that promotes environmental and climate justice (e.g., youth climate action / social movements, outdoor school, community-governed resilience and activism projects [e.g., on food sovereignty, local energy infrastructure, mitigating legacy pollution], social studies education, arts education, field investigations, regenerative design, etc.). The educational work is inherently transdisciplinary, and we will center multiple ways of knowing throughout our efforts.

One entry point will be the context of PK-12 science and engineering education—as represented in the NRC Framework for K-12 Science Education and resulting standards-based initiatives focused on climate science education. For example, over the past four years the statewide ClimeTime network has worked with 26,000 teachers across Washington on learning to teach about climate change and climate justice through science education. Also, the newly launched Climate Teacher Education Collaborative is working with teacher education faculty from 16 universities in Washington to integrate a focus on community-climate justice work and youth civic action into teacher education courses. In both of these efforts network efforts, we have been building open access climate learning resources for broad use in education.