Education key to solving climate change


Thursday, 12 August, 2021

Education key to solving climate change

An international group of researchers has identified education as a cornerstone in helping future generations respond to climate change.

Hailing from Monash University, Exeter University, University of Southern Queensland (USQ) and Stanford University, the researchers argue in a recently published paper that greater investment and innovation in educating children about environmental issues is required.

Professor Alan Reid, from the Faculty of Education at Monash University, said environmental and science education helps people to identify fake information and ideologies, and understand and respond appropriately to warnings about the climate emergency.

“The deepening environmental crisis will continue to worsen if there is not significant support and investment in environmental and science education,” Reid said.

“Governments and other organisations need to direct more funding to education innovation to help young people address the complex, interlinked trends in the deteriorating state of ecosystems, biodiversity and climate, amongst other environmental issues.”

The experts add that consensus on our current environmental predicaments must also be supported by those in the humanities, arts, and social sciences, and wider society.

Professor Jo-Anne Ferreira from USQ said the research identifies the importance of a whole-school approach as opposed to quick curriculum fixes for addressing the climate emergency.

“We also need to look at investment and innovation in lifelong learning and non-school-based provision, alongside examining the focus of current initial teacher education and continuing professional development,” Ferreira said.

“Global leaders should be discussing how to reimagine, recreate and restore environmental education to reduce the consequences of the environmental crisis. Countries should embed environmental and science education throughout society in ways that make sense locally,” added Professor Justin Dillon from the University of Exeter.

The research paper highlights international surveys that show many governments continue to fail to support and invest enough in environmental and sustainability education across pre-school, school, college and university settings.

“Ensuring any form of environmental education is relevant, coherent, fit for purpose, funded appropriately, and available to current and future generations within and beyond the curriculum will be crucial to addressing sound and pertinent warnings from scientists,” Reid said.

The researchers conclude that as a collective we must consider the role of education both critically and creatively in influencing and shaping any of our individual and collective behaviours.

Image credit: ©stock.adobe.com/au/malp

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