Climate Change Education From Critical Thinking to Critical Action


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  • 2016•02•08

    A new UNU-IAS Policy Brief makes recommendations on how to close the gap between education and action on climate change. Climate Change Education From Critical Thinking to Critical Action by Philip Vaughter (Research Fellow, UNU-IAS) suggests three innovative ways of strengthening education curriculums.


    Effective policy related to climate change education requires not only a commitment to teach and learn but a commitment to act. Research has shown that knowledge alone is insufficient for societies to change behaviour; therefore, policymakers must move beyond education systems that simply transmit knowledge to ones that promote graduates who are engaged in systemic change.


    • Emphasise action competence, not just knowledge, in developing curriculums and learning outcomes related to climate change literacy.
    • Create learning environments in which students are able to practise action competence in responding to climate changes, by minimising operational policy and practices that contradict competencies being taught in relation to climate change.
    • Target adult and senior learners for climate literacy and building action competence with regard to climate change.

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    This policy brief is an outcome of the project Education for Sustainable Development (ESD), which was launched in 2003 in response to the resolution on the UN Decade of ESD (DESD: 2005−2014) adopted at the 57th session of the UN General Assembly. The project focuses on contributing to international sustainable development and ESD processes through developing multi-stakeholder networks and higher education alliances, enhancing leadership and capacity development and advancing knowledge through policy-relevant research.

  • Climate Change Education From Critical Thinking to Critical Action

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