UCL: New Centre for Climate Change and Sustainability Education launches

The UCL Centre for Climate Change and Sustainability Education (CCCSE) is based at IOE, UCL’s Faculty of Education and Society, and brings together experts from across UCL to transform the UK’s approach to teaching climate change and sustainability in schools.

Led by Professor Nicola Walshe, the Centre will conduct high-quality research to shape teachers’ and school leaders’ professional development across all phases, subjects and career stages.

Initial work by CCCSE will see academics conduct rapid research on teachers’ knowledge and preparedness to teach climate change and sustainability education across the UK. Other upcoming work includes equipping teachers with the tools to develop the curriculum for more sustainable futures, and exploring how secondary schools’ engagement with climate change and sustainability education in England varies.

In addition to academics at UCL working together, the Centre aims to work with a range of partners, including teachers, students and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to form a truly interdisciplinary institute.

Professor Nicola Walshe, Executive Director of CCCSE, said: “The importance of education for preparing children and young people to understand and adapt to and mitigate issues of climate change and sustainability is increasingly well accepted. However, a significant proportion of teachers feel underprepared to teach it, unsure of where to access appropriate support, and concerned as to how to go about talking to young people without negatively impacting their mental health and wellbeing.

“Teaching young people about climate change and sustainability must include but also go beyond the science of climate change and develop knowledge and values to help them to adapt to a changing world and to embrace the opportunities that more sustainable lifestyles might offer. This becomes a whole curriculum issue, with a need for engagement by teachers of all subjects and all phases. We know that existing resources and support for teachers are variable in coverage and quality; our aim is to provide high-quality, research-informed support for teachers across all career stages, subjects and phases.”

Dr Alison Kitson, Programme Director at CCCSE, added: “The need for better support for teachers in this area was acknowledged in the Department for Education’s recent Climate and Sustainability Education draft strategy. IOE is uniquely placed to provide this support at scale for all teachers and school leaders because of the breadth of our interdisciplinary and cross-phase expertise. We are also able to draw on an incredible wealth of expertise in climate change and sustainability issues across UCL which will ensure that our resources and teacher education programme are informed by the most recent research.”

Professor Li Wei, IOE Director and Dean, said: “Tackling climate change and adapting to a net zero world is the greatest challenge that humanity faces. Teachers have a vital role to play in teaching young people about climate change and preparing them with the skills and knowledge that will allow them to adapt to a changing world. The Centre for Climate Change and Sustainability Education will be absolutely critical in this urgent work.”

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