Educators and youth organizers are invited to reimagine climate change education for a more just and sustainable world through a series of free virtual webinars beginning Tuesday, Aug. 24 and an in-person gathering at CU Boulder on Sept. 11-12.
The Climate Change Learning Series for Educators is uniquely focused on the role of justice, emotion and action in climate change teaching and learning. The events will bring together teachers, informal educators, youth organizers, researchers and more to examine critical issues in climate change education. Each virtual webinar runs from 6:30-8 p.m. MST and will focus on the following themes:
The series culminates in an in-person conference, the Climate Change Learning Gathering, on Saturday, Sept. 11 and Sunday, Sept. 12. The event will follow campus COVID-19 safety protocols, and capacity is limited. Educators can learn more or register for a single webinar, the series and/or the gathering at colorado.edu/cumuseum/climatelearning.
The Climate Change Learning Series is co-directed by Kelsey Tanye, an environmental educator and recent CU Boulder doctoral graduate, and Dan Liston, professor emeritus of education, and it is supported by the CU Boulder School of Education, the Environmental Studies Program, CU Museum of Natural History and the Office for Outreach and Engagement.
Climate change learning is about much more than knowledge acquisition. People can and do learn by taking action to address the challenges of our world. Young people are driving global action on climate change, and learning spaces can support the development of skills, knowledge and practices toward action." — Kelsey Tanye, PhD in Education
Tayne and Liston teamed up to combine their interests in the ways young people are participating in global action on climate change and the design of learning spaces that support ethical action and address the emotional experiences of students and teachers.
Together with their partners, Tayne and Liston have created a dynamic series that features powerhouse experts in climate change and learning. We caught up with the series co-facilators to learn about why examining climate change learning is important and what attendees might gain.
Tell us about your personal interests in climate change learning? How did you get here?
TAYNE: I've been interested in the environment and environmental issues from an early age. I've always loved being outside. Growing up in California, we were often impacted by fires and poor air quality. Smoke had a negative impact on my asthma, so I've been thinking about what's in our atmosphere for a long time. As an adult, I learned about the racial, economic, and geographic inequities and injustices surrounding climate change, which led me to understand climate change in a different light and provided stronger motivation for action.
LISTON: My focused interest on climate change learning began in earnest during the Summer and Fall 2020. Previously I thought somehow it wouldn’t happen in my lifetime. Having retired from the CU Boulder School of Education and experienced the COVID disruption of life as well as the summer’s smoke-filled Rocky Mountain skies, I started reading around in the climate change literature. Wallace-Wells’ The Uninhabitable Earth altered drastically my understanding of the devastating and cascading climate effects likely to come. And I knew two things: 1)The pandemic disrupted students’ and teachers’ lives and gave us a taste of what climate change would bring; and 2) As youth educators and teacher educators we needed to learn and talk more about this coming crisis.
Why did you two decide to join forces on issues related to climate education?
TANYE: Dan brings a wealth of expertise in socio-emotional learning and years of work with teachers and students. I appreciate the perspective he brings to these issues in light of the serious emotional implications of climate change teaching and learning. Plus he brings joy and laughter to our work!
LISTON: I asked Dean Kathy Schultz if a climate change conference and series were possible and she said “YES, and here’s our resident expert – Kelsey Tayne, PhD.” Kelsey’s vast scholarly understanding of climate change and immense experience with experts in our area made this whole thing possible. And not only is she organized beyond my understanding, she tolerates my attempts at humor.
How and why did you land on the three themes: justice, emotion, action?
TANYE: When I worked at National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, my understanding of climate change teaching and learning and the role of young people in addressing the climate crisis started to shift. As research supports, climate change learning is about much more than knowledge acquisition. People can and do learn by taking action to address the challenges of our world. Young people are driving global action on climate change, and learning spaces can support the development of skills, knowledge and practices toward action. This was the focus of my dissertation work, "Understanding and Designing for Youth Learning as and for Socioenvironmental Action." Action on climate change must advance greater justice, for humans and nonhumans. Educators can help young people understand these challenges as issues of social and ecological justice. Conceptualizing climate change in terms of justice shapes the kinds of actions we imagine and design for. Youth are also facing growing eco-anxiety and climate change is impacting their mental well-being (adults' well-being too). We wanted to also explore climate change in terms of teachers' and learners' emotions, from fear to hope, and implications for education.
LISTON: Emotional engagement and reflection in teaching as well as understanding power and exploitation in schooling have been preoccupations in my professional life. My early work with understanding schools’ roles in economic inequities (Capitalist Schools: Explanation and Ethics in Radical Studies of Schooling), the growing awareness of the emotional underpinning of our work as teachers ("Love and Despair in Teaching" and "The Lure of Learning in Teaching") and the need for teachers to reflect on the social conditions of schooling (Teacher Education and the Social Conditions of Schooling) have brought me to the realms of emotion and justice in climate change learning.
Why was it important to create this series specifically for educators, why now, and what will attendees walk away with?
TANYE: For many young people, information and news about climate change can be inundating, conflicting and confusing. Educators can play an important role in communities of young people by creating learning spaces that are supportive, critical and oriented towards more just and sustainable futures. Educators have sought learning opportunities like this one for a long time and many young people they work with are hungry for deeper climate change learning opportunities.
LISTON: Along the Front Range I’ve run into teachers who want and are supported in their exploration of climate change, as well as teachers who’ve been told not to use the terms climate change or global warming in their classrooms. The crisis is here. We want to provide a forum for its meaningful exploration.