Prof. Alan Reid

Monash University, Australia

Featured Speech: Climate Change Education: What's Next?

Biography:

Professor, Faculty of Education, Monash University, Australia

Alan Reid is a Professor at Faculty of Education, Monash University.

He works with a range of environmental and sustainability education (ESE) research networks, locally and internationally. Key activities include editing Environmental Education Research, and supporting the Global Environmental Education Partnership.

Alan's research interests focus on educators’ thinking and practice in ESE, and traditions, capacities and issues in related theory, research and policy.

Recent work includes research, policy and practice development activities that address the climate emergency through education, education in relation to the UN's Sustainable Development Goals, e.g. Mission 4.7, and addressing scientists' warnings about the environmental crisis.

https://research.monash.edu/en/persons/alan-reid

Abstract:

Climate Change Education (CCE) is a subfield of educational practice that has emerged locally to internationally over recent decades. Given its brief history, it is not surprising that debates about its particular constitution and enactment continue to rage; for example, on whether there should be a shift of focus from climate change adaptation to mitigation or vice versa throughout schooling, and what is implied by ‘climate literacy’.

In responding to our topic, ‘what next?’, we can understand that such questions and responses tend to draw on distinctive sets of understandings and priorities related to clusters of emphasis in curriculum and pedagogy. These help us examine typical categories of provision that differentiate between: ‘climate education’, ‘climate change education’, ‘climate justice education’, and ‘climate emergency education’. Furthermore, such analysis shows that each cluster stands to offer stakeholders in education a partial rather than holistic understanding of what is powerful to know about climate change through education. Indeed, this has important implications for where the attention and energy of educators and learners should focus and when, particularly in terms of what can be expected of educational processes and outcomes.

Nevertheless, an analysis of each type of CCE would suggest some shared and core assumptions have emerged. These include that everyone should have the right to be taught and learn about climate change at whatever age and in whatever context, while given, for example, the work of the IPCC and the urgency of addressing the climate crisis, that teaching and learning needs to happen now, and be ongoing. A corresponding and equally demanding assumption is that these require educators and learners to have access to: (a) the latest information and unbiased expertise about climate action, and (b) genuine support for building related capacity and capabilities through educational processes and systems in the immediate to longer term.

In this talk and discussion, we will consider the details and examples of how these claims are worked through, alongside why the stakes have grown increasingly high for this fledgling field of educational activity. For example, debates about priorities have been supercharged by conflicting ideas emerging from, on the one hand, the global work of the UNFCCC, Paris Agreement, Sustainable Development Goals and a 2030 timeline, and on the other, social movements exemplified by Greta Thunberg, SchoolStrike4Climate and Net Zero initiatives. In short, what appear to be at stake for ‘what next’ is: (i) whether the insights converge or diverge on what is required – as well as what is not – for supporting climate action in the education sector, and (ii) what this all means for ensuring that educators and learners know they are engaging in quality CCE.

Abstract

Prof. Alan Reid

Climate Change Education (CCE) is a subfield of educational practice that has emerged locally to internationally over recent decades. Given its brief history, it is not surprising that debates about its particular constitution and enactment continue to rage; for example, on whether there should be a shift of focus from climate change adaptation to mitigation or vice versa throughout schooling, and what is implied by ‘climate literacy’.
In responding to our topic, ‘what next?’, we can understand that such questions and responses tend to draw on distinctive sets of understandings and priorities related to clusters of emphasis in curriculum and pedagogy. These help us examine typical categories of provision that differentiate between: ‘climate education’, ‘climate change education’, ‘climate justice education’, and ‘climate emergency education’. Furthermore, such analysis shows that each cluster stands to offer stakeholders in education a partial rather than holistic understanding of what is powerful to know about climate change through education. Indeed, this has important implications for where the attention and energy of educators and learners should focus and when, particularly in terms of what can be expected of educational processes and outcomes.
Nevertheless, an analysis of each type of CCE would suggest some shared and core assumptions have emerged. These include that everyone should have the right to be taught and learn about climate change at whatever age and in whatever context, while given, for example, the work of the IPCC and the urgency of addressing the climate crisis, that teaching and learning needs to happen now, and be ongoing. A corresponding and equally demanding assumption is that these require educators and learners to have access to: (a) the latest information and unbiased expertise about climate action, and (b) genuine support for building related capacity and capabilities through educational processes and systems in the immediate to longer term.
In this talk and discussion, we will consider the details and examples of how these claims are worked through, alongside why the stakes have grown increasingly high for this fledgling field of educational activity. For example, debates about priorities have been supercharged by conflicting ideas emerging from, on the one hand, the global work of the UNFCCC, Paris Agreement, Sustainable Development Goals and a 2030 timeline, and on the other, social movements exemplified by Greta Thunberg, SchoolStrike4Climate and Net Zero initiatives. In short, what appear to be at stake for ‘what next’ is: (i) whether the insights converge or diverge on what is required – as well as what is not – for supporting climate action in the education sector, and (ii) what this all means for ensuring that educators and learners know they are engaging in quality CCE.