This project to promote the School of Geography and the Environment’s climate change-related research to new audiences in schools is also known as Climate Change Education. Led by a working group from the ECI and SoGE, it involves many other people from within the department and elsewhere in the University, as well as local educators and NGOs. It builds on widespread enthusiasm to use our research knowledge to help educate, empower and enthuse children and young people.
The project will achieve its aims in a number of ways, including compiling the best current educational materials for schools and outlining gaps, experimenting with different methods of engagement on climate change, and building stronger networks within and outside the University.
Compiling & developing educational materials
Over summer 2019, we were able to employ three research assistants – Lucy Fellingham, Madeleine Ratcliffe and John Allen – and now have the following:
- an up-to-date list of current educational materials;
- an outline understanding of where climate change fits in the curriculum, and ideas for inserting more content;
- updated climate Q&A – now on True Planet, as well as climate.ox.ac.uk;
- a set of research-based posts suitable for Instagram.
Communicating with children / young people
On 15 January 2020, SoGE welcomed Mim Saxl from Low Carbon West Oxford to run a training session with staff and students. She spoke on ‘Talking to children about the climate crisis in a safe and empowering way’, which covered all age groups, and suggested useful approaches and resources. She also introduced learning materials developed particularly for use with primary school age children which are available here: view resources on the Kids Climate Action Network website.
Experimenting with engagement
We launched the Maths for Planet Earth website (www.mathsforplanetearth.org) to coincide with the global climate strike on 20 September 2019. The site, which is aimed at students and teachers, integrates climate change and environmental issues into maths teaching by offering GCSE and A level problems based on these topics.
Building a network
Professor Martin Evans (University of Manchester) came to speak about ‘Teaching, geography and the climate emergency’ (view Martin's slides here) on 11 November 2019 to an audience of geographers and geography educators. We hope this will inspire ongoing dialogue and action on incorporating climate change into geography education.
Network building is going well. We have met with local groups and educators, including Low Carbon West Oxford; Kim Polgreen, who runs education non-profit Leadership in Global Change; and the University's Education Department and Natural History Museum. Low Carbon West Oxford are going to run a workshop for ECI and SoGE volunteers to train them in talking to primary age children about climate change and environmental research. For the older age range, we will be participating in Cheney secondary school’s Festival of the Future in March 2020. There are many more good ideas and opportunities to speak at and engage with schools than we have capacity to carry out – so if anyone would like to offer their time, please get in touch with Dr Tina Fawcett!