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New report on Climate Change Education by the ALLEA Science Education Working Group

27 May 2020


PDF icon ALLEA Report: A Snapshot of Climate Change Education Initiatives in Europe

According to the report entitled 'A Snapshot of Climate Change Education Initiatives in Europe' more of a focus is needed on mitigation, adaptation, and climate justice.

Climate Change Education initiatives in addition to looking at causes of climate change need to expand to focus more on mitigation and adaptation, and help students understand that mitigation is not only crucial for future generations but is also essential for current disadvantaged populations on whom climate change is having the biggest impact.  

These are some of the conclusions of a recently published ALLEA report “A snapshot of Climate Change Education Initiatives in Europe: Initial findings and implications for future Climate Change Education”. The document has been prepared by ALLEA’s Science Education Working Group and contains recommendations based on an on-line survey of existing initiatives complemented by educational research literature and the expertise of the scholars who conducted this work.

The report’s further headline recommendations include amongst others:

  • Existing high-quality examples of Climate Change Education resources for different age groups should be collated so that educators throughout Europe could use them in different educational settings.
  • The development, implementation and assessment of high-quality professional development programmes for teachers and the impact of these professional development programmes on the teaching and learning about climate change should be focused on.
  • More local initiatives that are fully contextualised and address the needs of communities should be developed.
  • Climate Change Education resources and programmes should adopt more solution-oriented and collective action approaches to climate change.

The ALLEA Science Education Working Group is Chaired by Dublin City University’s Dr Cliona Murphy. Dr Murphy has been the Royal Irish Academy’s nominee to this working group since 2015, representing Irish science on this European platform. Commenting on the launch of this report, Dr Murphy says:

“It is encouraging to see that there is a myriad of educational resources available to support teachers in teaching about climate change. However, it is also apparent that climate change education faces numerous challenges that require urgent actions, actions that will require significant financial support. It is essential therefore that a funding framework, perhaps similar to those of the highly successful FP6 and FP7 EU funding Frameworks, is established to support research in and the development of effective approaches for teaching and learning about Climate Change.”

The online survey was administered by ALLEA and shared with its membership of more than 50 sciences academies across Europe, which were encouraged to further reach out to relevant universities, education providers and outreach organisations that address climate change education in their work.

Thus, this scoping survey maps a sample of current Climate Change Education initiatives in a non-exhaustive way, to identify commonalities, gaps, and best practices. While the sample in the current study is relatively small, it provides informative and relevant findings that are particularly timely taking cognisance that climate change is one of the key challenges identified by the European Commission in their 2020 Work Plan among others. Key findings from this exercise aim to inform a more representative large-scale survey of Climate Change Education initiatives throughout Europe.

ALLEA and the Science Education Working Group

ALLEA is the European Federation of Academies of Sciences and Humanities, representing more than 50 academies from over 40 EU and non-EU countries. Since its foundation in 1994, ALLEA speaks out on behalf of its members on the European and international stages, promotes science as a global public good, and facilitates scientific collaboration across borders and disciplines.

The ALLEA Science Education Working Group is committed to supporting the further progression of science education throughout Europe to ensure our students develop the necessary knowledge, skills and motivation to participate as active citizens and to pursue careers in science. Furthermore the science education group is committed to ensuring students experience a science education that is engaging and relevant to them and that ultimately results in students throughout Europe truly valuing science and caring for the environment in which they live.

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