Whole School Approaches to Climate Change Education
Climate change education poses unique challenges and opportunities in formal education. The Sustainability and Education Policy Network (SEPN), recently released the publication, Responding to Climate Change: A Primer for K-12 Education to provide decision makers with a research-based analysis of the most effective climate change education strategies. SEPN discusses the fact that though much emphasis has been placed on building students' scientific understanding of climate change, school systems have not adqueately addressed the social-psychological factors that influence behavior and motivate action. The approach they put forward, the whole school approach, addresses the school-wide systems that can each play a role in a more holistic approach to climate change education-- from cross-curricular integration to community partnerships to governance and more. Though much of the research focuses on Canada, many of the concepts can be applied in a variety of school contexts. I had the opportunity to visit Saskatoon, Canada last spring, where several schools in the city were applying elements of the whole school approach through a program called Student Action for a Sustainable Future. It was very inspiring to see elements of the whole school approach in action, and to meet teachers who were clearly enthusiastic to participate.