Climate Change Education Should Empower Students to take Action

I’m ashamed it’s a worldwide problem and
us just ignoring is really messed up. I believe it’s definitely a thing that’s happening is
something that we really need to care about right now. When I first started
teaching “Intro to Bio.” I would have thought that you know if 70% of the students
arrived in the course accepting climate change, I would have thought that was
pretty good. So I was really surprised when we did a study and we found that
98% of students arriving in introductory Biology already accept that climate
change is happening. When I first saw that number at first I thought well
maybe we were preaching to the choir here. They already came in accepting that,
but then I thought well there actually is value in preaching to the choir, and
we can also see that students become more sure that climate change is
occurring and they can better explain the causes of climate change. One thing
that was really striking in our study was we found that students became a lot
more worried about climate change with instruction. And I think that makes sense,
they come to understand that climate change is happening now and that is
having really dramatic impacts and they don’t understand then how they can act
to slow climate change and they actually think that we will not act to
effectively address climate change. Something we know from social science is
that it really helps to focus on, they refer to them as bright spots, so what
are the things being done especially locally that show us that action can be
taken? So you might think of the local Climate Strike, and that that was
happening globally, but it also happened here in Ann Arbor. When people are like
we keep talking about it and people pay more attention about it and everybody’s
start doing little things by themselves will make a huge difference in the
future. I believe that more people are out here today and
the world will see that there is a mass movement building that is support of
some sort of structural policy change or industry policy change toward addressing climate change. I think sometimes
people think well like I’m just one person I’m just a drop in the bucket but
right there’s this idea that the ocean is a lot of drops too, altogether right. I
think sometimes students don’t think they have a lot of power, but
collectively they have huge amounts of power and I think one of the things
that’s really important is to have them realize that the power of collective
action and also the power they have in in terms of potentially influencing
societal level policies. One of the things I’ve thought about doing is to
encourage students to think about what would they say, and who would they say it to?
-Well you know I’m 15 years old and I’m just kind of scared for like my future
at this point you know there’s a lot going on with the climate and just the
environment in general. I want to stand up for what I stand on. (laughs) (soft music plays)

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