Empowering Learners in a Warming World
A climate change inquiry guide for grade 7-12 educators
Climate change is the most complex and wide-reaching challenge facing humankind today. It is essential that we help younger generations to be better equipped to take on this challenge and that we call on their energy, creativity and drive to help us all work towards a common goal. Education is critical to the global and national response to climate change.
This resource was developed as a response to the gaps in knowledge, and requests for support that were identified in our national survey: Canada, Climate Change and Education: Opportunities for Public and Formal Education and feedback from teachers who have attended LSF’s professional development institutes. Our hope is that this resource is an accessible and comprehensive response to Canadian educators and will equip teachers with the background knowledge and tools to approach climate change education in their classroom, across subjects and curricular areas, and ultimately empower youth to become solutionaries. Read about some of the key highlights of the National survey in the Executive Summary here.
The purpose of this guide is to present opportunities to evolve students’ understanding of the climate and climate change, assess the risks and opportunities to mitigate and adapt to the changing climate, unpack ethical dimensions, and honour emotions that are part of the process of coming to understand the complexity and urgency of the issue.
Transformative teaching strategies used throughout this guide are important to tackling complex problems like climate change. These strategies often begin with the understanding and experiences that students bring with them. Educators, who themselves are grappling with climate change issues, take the role of facilitators and co-learners as the class works together to learn, critically reflect, and take action.
Most importantly, this guide aims to engage students in contributing to solutions in their schools, communities and homes. It aims to connect educators to instructional strategies that allow for students’ perspectives and voice, currently available climate change science and research, teacher resources and activities, datasets, and action solutions.
In order to provide a comprehensive guide to climate change education, we have created eight different inquiries that are structured to follow the inquiry process:
- Inquiry 1. What is climate change and why care?
- Inquiry 2. Climate change: where are we now?
- Inquiry 3. Monitoring change using the Climate Atlas of Canada
- Inquiry 4. Environmental impacts & restoration
- Inquiry 5. Human health: Addressing climate change makes us healthier
- Inquiry 6. A low carbon future: Economic transitions, risks and impacts
- Inquiry 7. Climate action and decolonization: Indigenous perspectives
- Inquiry 8. Ethical dimensions for children, youth, and livable futures
- Inquiry 9: Youth Agency
We recommend beginning with Inquiry 1: What is Climate Change and Why Care. This chapter provides a comprehensive introduction to the subject matter through a slightly more prescriptive inquiry path than each other theme. This guided path of inquiry could be a good starting point for climate change education, but also to introduce the principles of inquiry into your classroom.
Each of the nine inquiry themes approach climate change from a different perspective. Given the scope of this issue, and relevance to students current and future lives, it is important to consider climate change from multiple perspectives. Depending on the subject matter you are teaching or the interest of your students, you may choose to embark on a certain inquiry journey.
Please refer to our curriculum connection chart, to find some of the ways that curriculum expectations can be met throughout this guide.