Geographic Environmental Education: Teaching Climate Change from a Social Science Perspective

Authors: Leslie Duram*, Southern Illinois University
Topics: Education , Environment, Climatology and Meteorology
Keywords: Climate Change, Environmental Studies, Geographic Education, Higher Education, Local-to-Global, Social Science, Sustainability
Session Type: Virtual Poster
Day: 4/8/2021
Start / End Time: 4:40 PM / 5:55 PM
Room: Virtual 52
Presentation File: Download



Climate change education must include geographic and social science perspectives in order to address the complex influences of policy, economics, culture, and place. This poster provides a curriculum map of a course recently taught in Geography at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. Key course topics include: environmental education, historical Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions, knowledge timeline, climate justice, youth action, science communication, hope vs despair, basis of misinformation, climate refugees, and more. To unify these concepts, action-activities were developed that specifically address relevant personal, local, state, national, and international sustainability themes. The broader context is the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (UNSDG) #13: “Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts.” By employing active learning approaches, students have the opportunity to explore their personal climate footprint, understand social/cultural influences, write policy requests to relevant local/state government officials, study national policy options, and learn about previous global initiatives. The course concludes with a global climate summit, which is a simulated meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). This final activity requires each student to represent a country, prepare their national policy report, and work to negotiate a multilateral climate agreement. Overall, geographic and social science contexts are crucial to understanding and influencing anthropogenic GHG emissions and thus fundamental to successful climate change education.

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