This week’s question from the Georgia Climate Project Roadmap deals with how we communicate the science and potential impacts of climate change on Georgia to K-12 and college educators. It also discusses the best ways to provide appropriate information to them for use in their class curricula. Teaching children and young adults about how climate will affect Georgia’s future climate is very important because they are the ones that are most likely to have to deal with the consequences of a warmer climate. You can see all the Roadmap questions at http://roadmap.georgiaclimateproject.org/.
36. What are challenges and opportunities in creating evidence-based K-12 and post-secondary climate change curricula for different types of institutions and regions?
Why this question is important: Leiserowitz et al. (2017) recently found that by a three-to-one margin, Americans want schools to improve climate change education. Educators in K-12 schools face a challenge in delivering evidence-based information about climate change at an appropriate level of sophistication due to the complexities of Earth system science, political and corporate influences, and social norms arising from strongly held opinions and beliefs of parents and/or administrators. Mitchem et al. (unpublished data) found that the type of K-12 institution attended (public, private nonreligious, private religious, or home school) influences Georgia students’ opinions about climate change, consistent with other work on student beliefs (Trautwein and Lüdtke 2007). There are opportunities to narrow the gap between scientists and the public by increasing education on this topic using educational standards, scientific sources, and lesson plans created with climate scientists’ input (Perkins et al. 2016; Ranney and Clark 2016).