Geographical process or global injustice? Contrasting educational perspectives on climate change

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F. Waldron, B. Ruane, R. Oberman & S. Morris

Pages: 1-17 | DOI: 10.1080/13504622.2016.1255876


Given the radical reduction in carbon emissions required from developed countries, a robust and justice-orientated educational response is necessary to support the collective actions needed to mitigate climate change. This exploratory study uses thematic analysis of interview and focus group data to investigate the understandings of educators, student teachers and environmental specialists on the issues of climate change, climate justice, and climate change education. The findings of this study present two contrasting perspectives on climate change and climate change education. The first perspective is predominant amongst teachers and students teachers. Its focus is on climate change as a geographical process with individual private actions as the possible solution. The second perspective, predominant amongst environmental specialists, characterises climate change as a global injustice requiring political, social and economic mobilisation. This study suggests that a critical, open-ended, holistic approach to climate change education is required, which provides multiple spaces for reflection and engages children with models of citizenship which embrace political action. It highlights the need for teacher education which support teachers’ understandings of the social, economic and justice aspects of climate change and also their confidence in exploring controversial and political issues in the classroom.

Keywords: Climate change education, education for sustainable development, global citizenship education, climate justice, primary school



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