Climate 101

Climate 101 is working to get climate change embedded into the curriculum of every university course. Students of physics, geography and environmental science all understand what climate change is doing to our planet, but to change the trajectory we are on, every university student should learn about climate change.
Rosa Blaus
Independent project
Embedding Climate Change Education into the curriculum of every university course
Nobody should graduate from university without understanding the basics of climate change. Nobody should be considered well educated without a good understanding of how the social, economic, ethical, technological, natural and political world we inhabit will be transformed by global heating. How can we encourage and help universities to educate all their students about Climate Change?
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Why should we teach climate change to university students?
Climate change is going to affect every aspect of our lives. From the food we eat and the houses we live in, to our jobs and our laws. Addressing climate change requires action at all levels of society; it can’t be solved by a few really clever climate scientists. We need to transfer climate change knowledge to all decision makers, many of whom are currently at university. Indeed, some of the most advanced thinking about sustainable futures can be found in schools of fashion, architecture and product design. It is hugely important that all graduates - including those studying humanities, languages, law, medicine and economics are offered modules which have sustainability at their core. After the economic crisis of 2007, economics students started to campaign for their education to be re-imagined - we are currently in a climate crisis and we need to rethink the way climate change is taught at university.

Students and lecturers

When I started this project, the first thing I did was to reach out to university students to find out if they wanted to learn about climate change in relation to their fields of study. The feedback was overwhelmingly positive, with some groups of students already organising movements and campaigns to get climate change embedded into their courses. Next, I spoke to lecturers about the idea, to begin to think how they could start teaching climate change. Most lecturers responded positively to the idea, but worried that they lacked expertise in climate change. For some academic fields in particular, it is quite difficult to imagine how climate change could be related - how can an English Literature lecturer integrate climate change into their curriculum? Climate 101 aims to use design thinking to solve these problems, by helping lecturers think creatively about climate change education.

Climate 101 principles for climate education

After talking to students and lecturers, I developed four principles for climate education: 1. Relevant: Climate education should be relevant to the academic area that students are enrolled in. Students need to learn about how their particular discipline impacts the Climate, and what to do about it. 2. Practical: Students should learn about how to move forward and apply sustainable practices to their future careers, going further than just reflecting on climate change in theory. 3. Hopeful: Lots of young people are worried about how climate change is going to affect their lives in the near future. Climate education should focus on how we can create a more sustainable future for everyone, be solution-oriented and empower young people to create change. 4. Credits: Climate education needs to have credits attached. This is important to engage properly with students, and to give them the opportunity to be committed and motivated to learning about climate change.
Climate 101 helps lecturers to think about how to embed climate change into their courses by using design thinking workshops and methods. We help educators to come up with a plan of action, starting with simple and easily implemented steps, such as running a single lecture about climate change, with the long-term aim of creating a whole new interdisciplinary climate change module. Through a series of 5 workshops, we help university departments to identify who their students are and what they want and need from climate education, the resources they might want to use, the most appropriate delivery method, and how to assess students. For students, we offer support and resources to help them run their own climate change lectures, and start a conversation at their institutions about climate education.
Climate 1010 has had some early successes. At Utrecht, Climate 101 has been helping a group of students and lecturers to design MOOC which will be available to all undergraduates, and will provide an introduction to climate change and sustainability. With the Imperial College Computer Science course, Climate 101 created a brief for students to work on a project about gamifying sustainability, demonstrating how project-based modules can easily and seamlessly integrate climate change and sustainability. At the University of Westminster Climate 101 helped a group of students to run a campaign to get climate change and sustainability into their curriculum, which resulted in the Vice Chancellor agreeing that all first year students would be taught about the Sustainable Development Goals and how they relate to their courses specifically. Next year we are hoping to hold the first Climate 101 online conference for students and lecturers interested in climate change education. Find out more about Climate 101 here:
special thanks
Thanks to all the students I spoke to, especially Dain and the Environmental Society at the University of Westminster - you are an inspiration, and Sven at Utrecht University who is doing amazing things. Thanks also to Madasar at Imperial College and the group of fantastic Computer Science students who worked on my brief. Thanks to Hannah, Carolyn and Clive for all your help and support. Finally, thanks to my dad, I couldn't have done this MA without you.

students involved on the project

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