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    Review of 'Responding to the environmental crisis through education: the imperative for teacher support across all disciplines'

    Responding to the environmental crisis through education: the imperative for teacher support across all disciplinesCrossref
    An effective rationale for investing in teacher training materials
    Average rating:
        Rated 4.5 of 5.
    Level of importance:
        Rated 5 of 5.
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        Rated 4 of 5.
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        Rated 4 of 5.
    Level of comprehensibility:
        Rated 5 of 5.
    Competing interests:
    I work for the platform ScienceOpen hosting this journal.

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    Responding to the environmental crisis through education: the imperative for teacher support across all disciplines

    The most recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report (IPCC, 2023) sets out sobering scenarios about the future for our young people and appeals for “deep, rapid, and sustained reductions in greenhouse gas emissions” (ibid., p. 12). Although technological responses are essential to achieve these reductions, technocratic solutions will not solve the environmental crisis; instead, a widespread societal transformation is needed. Education can play a profound role in this transformation as it is fundamental to building a society with knowledge, skills and wherewithal to boldly tackle climate change as well as the broader environmental crisis. This commentary reflects on multiple dimensions of this role and particularly focuses on schools and the important contribution that all subjects can make towards developing interdisciplinary, complex understandings of the environmental crisis and how we can live more sustainably. Drawing from a recent nation-wide survey of teachers in England carried out by UCLs Centre for Climate Change and Sustainability Education (Greer, Sheldrake, et al., 2023), we highlight a troubling lack of engagement in formal professional development related to climate change and sustainability, even amongst a ‘climate change engaged’ cohort of teachers, and the imperative for comprehensive professional development for teachers from across all disciplines, as part of the response to the environmental crisis.

      Review information

      This work has been published open access under Creative Commons Attribution License CC BY 4.0, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. Conditions, terms of use and publishing policy can be found at www.scienceopen.com.

      Environment,Education,Climate Change,The Environment,Climate,Teachers,Professional Development,Knowledge

      Review text

      This commentary raises the important issue of how we can shape the societal response to the climate change crisis through education and in particular teacher training programs. The Covid-19 pandemic taught us that technical solutions such as viable vaccines must be supported by society to be effective and must therefore go hand in hand with outreach and education programs. The time-scale of the climate crisis is longer, which gives an opportunity to address it through the educational infrastructure in place for children and young people, but the data shared in this work suggests that much more must be done. I was convinced by the strategy of creating training materials for teachers to provide a more unified presentation of challenges and solutions across a range of disciplines with the goal of effecting societal change to address climate change. While this should not be the only educational intervention, it is a start. 

      I would appreciate more information about the data-set of the study done by Greer, Sheldrake, et al., The ‘web of conditions’ governing England’s climate change education policy landscape. Journal of Education Policy, 38(1), 69–92, as this forms the central argument of the commentary and rationale for investing in teacher training materials across the entire curriculum.


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