Teacher in classroom

After a record-breaking summer – hottest June on record, the hottest month ever in July – students and teachers have returned to their classrooms. But in what classes should the diverse causes and consequences of climate change be covered? If meeting the challenge of climate change will affect, in some way, nearly every aspect of contemporary life, should it be covered, in some way, in every course? This month’s bookshelf features books about climate change education. The first part covers books that address the general theory and practice of teaching climate change. The second part highlights books that focus on specific subtopics.

As always, the descriptions are drawn and/or adapted from copy provided by the publishers. When two dates of publication are provided, the second is the date for the paperback edition.


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Teaching and Learning about Climate Change: A Framework for Educators, edited by Daniel P. Shepardson, Anita Roychoudhury and Andrew S. Hirsch (Routledge 2017, 264 pages, $53.95 paperback)

Responding to the issues and challenges of teaching and learning about climate change from a science education-based perspective, this book is designed to serve as an aid for educators as they strive to incorporate the topic into their classes. The unique discussion of these issues is drawn from the perspectives of leading and international scholars in the field. Teaching and Learning about Climate Change: A Framework for Educators is structured around three themes: theoretical, philosophical, and conceptual frameworks for climate change education and research; research on teaching and learning about global warming and climate change; and approaches to professional development and classroom practice.

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Climate Change Education: Knowing, Doing, and Being, by Chang Chew Hung (Routledge 2014, 172 pages, $57.95 paperback)

Future generations must learn how to deal with the complex information and diverse views about climate change. This book explores what that education would entail, discussing the concept of Climate Change Education (CCE) itself, how it can be taught in schools and how public education can be carried out. It instructs what specific subject matter to teach for CCE, and how to evaluate the student learning on the subject. Chapters include: CCE in the Formal Curriculum; Teacher readiness for CCE; Assessment for and of CCE; and Lessons from CCE for Public Education. Climate Change Education is an extremely useful resource for anyone involved in educating students on climate change and also for those interested in climate change itself.

See also Education and Climate Change: Living and Learning in Interesting Times, edited by Fumiyo Kagawa and David Shelby (Routledge 2009/2012).

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Climate Change Education: Goals, Audiences, and Strategies: A Workshop Summary, by Sherrie Forest and Michael A. Feder, rapporteurs (National Academies Press 2011, 99 pages, $29.00*)

Although information on climate change is readily available, the nation still seems unprepared or unwilling to respond effectively to climate change. In response to this challenge, Congress asked the National Science Foundation to create a funding program to improve climate change education in the United States. In support, the Board on Science Education of the National Research Council created the Climate Change Education Roundtable, which convened two workshops. Climate Change Education: Goals, Audiences, and Strategies is a summary of the first workshop, which focused on two topics: public understanding and decision maker support. Climate change education in formal settings, K-14, was the focus of the second workshop.

*A free download is available here.

Reading and writing climate change

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Teaching Climate Change in the Humanities, edited by Stephen Siperstein, Shane Hall, and Stephanie Lemenager (Routledge 2017, 294 pages, $39.95 paperback)

Climate change is an enormous and increasingly urgent issue. This important book highlights how humanities disciplines can mobilize the creative and critical power of students, teachers, and communities to confront climate change. The book is divided into four clear sections to help readers integrate climate change into the classes and topics they are already teaching as well as engage with interdisciplinary methods and techniques. Teaching Climate Change in the Humanities constitutes a map and toolkit for anyone who wishes to draw upon the strengths of literary and cultural studies to teach valuable lessons that engage with climate change.

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Teaching Climate Change to Adolescents: Reading, Writing, and Making a Difference, by Richard Beach, Jeff Share and Allen Webb (Routledge 2017, 148 pages, $35.95 paperback)

Teaching Climate Change to Adolescents is THE essential resource for middle and high school teachers to help their students understand and address the urgent issues and challenges facing life on Earth today. Classroom activities designed by teachers show students posing questions, engaging in argumentative reading and writing and critical analysis, interpreting portrayals of climate change in literature and media, and adopting advocacy stances to promote change. The book illustrates how to fit climate change into existing courses using already available materials and gives teachers tools and teaching ideas to support building this into their own classrooms. Teacher and student voices make for an appealing and inspiring read. See companion website.

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Confronting Climate Crises through Education: Reading Our Way Forward, by Rebecca L. Young (Lexington Books 2018, 172 pages, $90.00)

Confronting Climate Crises through Education envisions the responsibility of public education to engage a citizenry more prepared to address the challenges of a changing world. Young advocates a paradigm shift that positions eco-pedagogy as the central organizing principle of curriculum and assessment design. Each chapter outlines ways literature can serve as a cultural lens for examining the complex patterns of contexts behind our most pressing climate concerns. A focus on fiction and non-fiction exemplars illustrates practical ways educators can develop instruction around the environmental crises we are already experiencing and to inspire more ecologically conscious, globally-minded problem-solvers prepared to confront them.

Curricula, lesson plans, and projects

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A People’s Curriculum for the Earth: Teaching Climate Change and the Environmental Crisis, edited by Bill Bigelow and Tim Swinehart (Rethinking Schools 2014, 400 pages, $24.95 paperback)

Five years in the making, A People’s Curriculum for the Earth is a collection of articles, role plays, simulations, stories, poems, and graphics to help breathe life into teaching about the environmental crisis. The book features some of the best articles from Rethinking Schools magazine alongside classroom-friendly readings on climate change, energy, water, food, and pollution – as well as on people who are working to make things better. A People’s Curriculum for the Earth has the breadth and depth of Rethinking Globalization, one of the most popular books we’ve published. At a time when it’s becoming increasingly obvious that life on Earth is at risk, here is a resource that helps students see what’s wrong and imagine solutions.

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The Teacher-Friendly Guide to Climate Change, edited by Ingrid H. H. Zabel, Don Duggan-Haas, Robert M. Ross, Benjamin Brown-Steiner and Alexandra F. Moore (Paleontological Research Institution 2017, 284 pages, $25.00 paperback*)

The Teacher-Friendly Guide to Climate Change was written for teachers who could benefit from a resource on climate change. Our focus audience is high school Earth science and environmental science teachers, but we expect that a much wider audience will find it useful, including educators of other grade levels, subjects, and contexts, as well as non-teachers who find the approach helpful. Climate change is a scientific issue, but it is also a historical, social, psychological, and economic issue that can only be deeply understood through mathematics, language and art. Like any book about a topic as complex and growing as climate change, this one is just a starting point, thus we have listed sets of resources at the end of each chapter.

*A free download is available here.

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Climate Change: Discover How it Impacts Spaceship Earth with 25 Projects, by Joshua Sneideman and Erin Twamley, illustrated by Mike Crosier (Nomad Press 2015, 128 pages, $17.95 paperback)

In Climate Change: Discover How It Impacts Spaceship Earth, young readers examine real studies concerning planetary science, Arctic ice bubbles, migratory patterns, and more. Kids explore the history of human impact from the Industrial Revolution to our modern-day technology, as well as the science and engineering innovations underway around the world to address global climate change. The idea of climate change can be scary, but every one of us has the ability to make a difference. Focused on a pro-active approach to environmental education, Climate Change engages readers through hands-on activities, such as building a solar pizza oven. Climate Change offers a way to think of our Spaceship Earth as the singular resource it is.

See also Climate Change Across the Curriculum, edited by Eric J. Fretz (Lexington Books 2015).

Michael Svoboda, Ph.D., is the Yale Climate Connections books editor. He is a professor in the University Writing Program at The George Washington University in Washington, D.C., where he has taught since...