Experts discuss: What can education do to slow down and adapt to climate change?

Climate change is the most urgent and complex global crisis facing mankind, and coping with climate change has become a top priority for mankind. What can education contribute to human response to climate change? How to play the role of education to slow down and adapt to climate change?

Recently, at the Sixth World Education Frontier Forum with the theme of "Climate Education and Learning: Turn the tide and Start with Me", experts and scholars from home and abroad discussed these issues in combination with the latest research results in climate change education.

What can education do for climate change?

Ma Fengqi, dean of the School of Education of Guangzhou University, believes that in the face of the increasingly severe challenge of climate change, what human beings can do is to start from me, from now on, from everyone’s daily life, and education is duty-bound.

Yin Houqing, vice-president of the 8th Council of China Education Association and president of Shanghai Education Association, conducted a survey on 236 primary and secondary schools in Shanghai. He found that the surveyed schools designed 400 scientific projects in project-based learning, and the environment-related projects accounted for about 20%, which was a high proportion in general. However, the projects related to climate change account for 2.5%, which is very low.

Yue Wei, a professor at the School of Education of Huazhong Normal University, believes that tackling climate change is not only a scientific and social issue, but also an educational issue, and education must take active action. The value orientation of education in coping with climate change lies in slowing down and adapting to climate change.

"For a long time, education has always followed the modern development paradigm centered on economic growth. This is undoubtedly aggravating the survival crisis of mankind and the earth. " Yue Wei said that in order to alleviate, adapt and even reverse climate change, education itself must be changed, and its important direction is its own ecologicalization.

In addition, an evaluation survey of international students by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development shows that young people generally have a good understanding of climate change. Among the students surveyed, nearly 80% said they knew or were very familiar with climate change and global warming.

Deborah Nusa, a senior analyst of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, believes that the education system plays an important role in climate change by influencing the way of thinking, behavior and life choices. At the same time, climate change provides an opportunity for education: to help young people improve their thinking skills and accept complexity better.

What challenges does climate change education face?

In East Asia, a region with a strong atmosphere of exam-oriented education, how can we carry out an education that seems to be not directly related to further studies and exams? Li Shengbing, dean of the School of Education Science of South China Normal University and executive director of the Hong Kong and Macao Research Center, pointed out that the implementation of climate change education is indeed a big problem.

Pei Qing, an associate professor at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, has long been engaged in research on climate change education. In his teaching practice, he found that when talking to students about global climate change, students usually feel very far away from themselves. When studying climate change, it is difficult for students to feel the traces of climate change.

Pei Qing believes that how to close the distance between students and climate change education, effectively promote climate change education, and enhance young people’s scientific literacy and humanistic feelings are issues that need to be considered in climate change education.

"At present, in some countries, school science teaching has not changed much in the past ten years, becoming more and more outdated and out of touch with real scientific practice in the real world." Deborah Nusa believes that school science education plays a vital role in cultivating future scientists, so attracting and supporting students to further their studies in the STEM field is the key to strengthening green development.

Teachers are the key to the implementation of climate change education, but teachers around the world generally lack the necessary knowledge, resources and teaching training related to climate change education, and cannot effectively implement climate change education in the classroom. A recent survey conducted by UNESCO on 58,280 teachers in 144 countries shows that less than 40% teachers are confident to teach climate change knowledge.

How to carry out climate change education?

Gong Peng, vice president of the University of Hong Kong and professor of global sustainable development, pointed out that many climate change problems are not profound, and climate change education should start with dolls.

He believes that the relevant knowledge of climate change should be designed in the basic education system, from kindergarten to high school, giving priority to the knowledge of climate change on health threats, starting with the simple knowledge of coping with high temperature and heat waves, and gradually increasing the systematic knowledge of coping with climate change.

Climate change education involves meteorology, geography, physics, chemistry, sociology, economics, politics and other disciplines. Yue Wei pointed out that the implementation of climate education should move from a single discipline to a multi-disciplinary integration, and the unique advantages of different disciplines should be brought into play to achieve the effect of collaborative education.

Li Xingwei, president of Macau University of Science and Technology, an academician of the Royal Academy of Engineering and the Hong Kong Academy of Engineering, believes that the government can use the database to carry out popular science activities and cooperate with secondary schools and universities to improve students’ awareness of climate change. The development of climate change education needs interdisciplinary thinking. At the university level, tourism industry, environment, economy and other disciplines all intersect. He hopes that the construction of these related subjects in China can form an all-round talent training system from undergraduate to doctoral level.

Yue Wei believes that student-centered experiential teaching and inquiry learning are the most effective for climate change education. These teaching methods can make students connect with the real world, give full play to their creativity, and then find solutions to problems from different angles.

Yin Houqing also believes that climate education is not only to teach people the skills to cope with climate change in their lives, but also to enable students to form the values they need to adapt to climate change, thus driving behavioral changes. In the construction and implementation of the climate change education curriculum, the thematic learning mode promotes learners from knowledge learning to understanding learning, and then connects with life, so as to improve the quality of ecological civilization.

The "World Education Frontier Forum" is a cross-disciplinary international education exchange platform founded by the China Education Thirty Forum, with the aim of "leading the trend and creating the future". The forum aims to promote the international exchange of the latest educational ideas and models, promote the application of the latest educational technology, and realize the all-round development of education in the future. The forum was hosted by the China Education Thirty Forum, in cooperation with the Education Policy Research Center of the University of Hong Kong, and co-organized by Tian Jiabing Foundation, the National and Regional Research Base of the Ministry of Education, the Hong Kong and Macao Research Center of South China Normal University, and the School of Education of Guangzhou University.