- New Jersey became the first state to adopt and implement a required statewide climate change curriculum, which experts say is critical to prepare young people for job opportunities in the growing green economy and help them develop resilience to environmental changes.
- As they consider weaving climate change lessons into curricula, education leaders should keep in mind that comprehensive standards are needed so students can think of ways to build a future for themselves and work together to solve problems for the earth, said Eric Pyle, retiring president of the National Science Teaching Association.
- “Students today are looking for meaning,” Pyle said. “They’re not just motivated by a career path but want to ensure they have a positive impact on the future.”
While climate change lessons may fit most easily in science and technology courses, Pyle, a professor of geoscience education at James Madison University, encourages teachers to widen their approach. He also sees history and economics courses as very much having a connection to climate instruction, because while many jobs in the green economy that address climate change will be STEM-related, many will not.
According to Pyle, future infrastructure will be built with an eye toward environmental changes, including constructing bridges and buildings that can handle extreme temperature and precipitation. Teachers, he said, may want to discuss how professionals from across fields work together to provide different perspectives when looking at problems around climate change.
In New Jersey, students will not only be taught about climate change starting this school year, but will also learn about future careers in the field, according to ABC News.
Additionally, courses will help to localize the impact of climate change, an approach Pyle encourages. Students could consider how these changes are affecting the livelihoods of people such as farmers in the local community or beyond, as well as how the impact of climate shifts is an equity issue that affects some lives differently than others.
The key is finding ways to engage students so they stay focused and feel empowered about the role they may play in the changes ahead.
“They’re looking at this with a longer perspective,” Pyle said. “And the way they solve a problem is working collaboratively.”