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Unit information: Climate Change and Education in 2021/22

Please note: It is possible that the information shown for future academic years may change due to developments in the relevant academic field. Optional unit availability varies depending on both staffing, student choice and timetabling constraints.

Unit name Climate Change and Education
Unit code EDUCM0090
Credit points 20
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Professor. Keri Facer
Open unit status Not open




School/department School of Education
Faculty Faculty of Social Sciences and Law


We live in a time that is increasingly concerned with the complex issue of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warned in a 2018 report that we had only 12 years to limit catastrophic climate change. Yet we continue to live in a world where climate warming rapidly accelerates, with unprecedented numbers of wildfires, water crises, destructive storm surges and increased melting of ice sheets. These changes have wider implications, including health impacts such as ‘eco-anxiety’ and social repercussions of internal climate migration and worldwide protests calling for urgent action. Education in and beyond schools can play a crucial role in shaping how we understand and respond to climate change, influencing and being influenced by a range of social, political and environmental forces.

This unit aims to:

  • Provide students with conceptual frameworks for critically and systematically understanding the material, social and cultural causes and consequences of climate change (What is climate change?)
  • Foster students’ critical understanding of the educational and pedagogic practices that recognize and respond to the complexities of climate change and its consequences. (How can we best teach about climate change?)
  • Build an understanding of the wider role that schools and other learning organisations play in developing informed, critical and hopeful actions that adapt to and shape the world around us. (What educational practices develop emotional resilience and hope?)
  • Develop the collaborative experiences, emotional tools and critical thinking skills required to develop strategic interventions to address climate change through education or informal learning. (How can educators and education contribute towards wider climate action?)

Intended learning outcomes

By the end of this unit, students will be able to:

  1. Demonstrate an in-depth understanding of the complex causes and consequences of climate change
  2. Discuss and evaluate different educational and pedagogic practices found in formal and informal climate change education
  3. Critically analyse the role of education, schools and other learning organisations in responding to the complexities of social, political, emotional and environmental issues related to climate change
  4. Develop and critically analyse a strategic intervention in educational or informal learning settings to address climate change challenges

Teaching details

Classes will involve a combination of lectures, class discussion, case studies, debates, critical analysis of key readings and group presentations.

Assessment Details

Summative assessment:

Critical reflection on a case study of climate change education (1000 words, 25%, ILOs 1&2)

Essay to discuss and critically analyse a strategic intervention to address an aspect of climate change in educational settings (3000 words, 75%, ILOs 1-4).

There will also be opportunities for formative assessment provided to students through poster presentation, group discussions, debate and critical analysis of key readings. Tutorials will also be offered for assessment support.

Reading and References

Corcoran P.B., Weakland, J. & Wals, A. (Eds.) (2017). Envisioning Futures for Environmental and Sustainability Education. Netherlands: Wageningen Academic Publishers.

Facer, K. (2019). Climate Change: how should public education respond?, FORUM, 61(2), 207-216.

Hawkey, K., James, J. & C. Tidmarsh. (2016). “Greening the Curriculum? History Joins’ the Usual Suspects’ in Teaching Climate Change.” Teaching History 162: 32–41.

Kahn, P. (1999). The Human Relationship with Nature. MIT Press -

Latour, B. (2017). Facing Gaia: Eight lectures on the new climatic regime. Cambridge: Polity Press.

Leichenko, R and O’Brien, K (2019) Climate and Society, Cambridge: Polity Press.

Stevenson, R., Whitehouse, H.L., and Nicholls, J. (2017) ‘What is climate change education?’ Curriculum Perspectives. 37 (1), pp 67-71.

Wibeck, V. (2014). Enhancing learning, communication and public engagement about climate change: Some lessons from recent literature. Environmental Education Research, 20(3), 387-411.