The challenge of coordinated civic climate change education

  • Peter BucklandEmail author
  • Eban Goodstein
  • Rob Alexander
  • Barry Muchnick
  • Mary Ellen Mallia
  • Neil Leary
  • Rob Andrejewski
  • Susannah Barsom


Many sustainability educators want to more effectively engage their students with climate policy. They also seek to support students’ civic and change agent skills and dispositions to take on critical social, economic, and environmental challenges that require collective action. Training young people for civic leadership and collective action is integral to the mission of higher education and part of achieving that mission has been to share success stories. This article shares anecdotal but research-informed reflections on the Power Dialog, a twenty-state, multi-month, civically minded, coordinated climate change educational program developed for college students to provide input to state governments on the Clean Power Plan. The Power Dialog was crafted on theories and practices of democratic education, behavioral economics, policy theory, and up-to-date climate science and risk assessments. This reflection shows that factors in state government, strong interinstitutional networks and leadership, and programs inside of the universities themselves were critical for success. The article concludes by recognizing that the national, state, and local political landscapes have shifted with the Trump administration and educators will need to respond accordingly.


Behavioral economics Civic engagement Climate change education Coordinated education Education for sustainability Energy policy Policy window 


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Copyright information

© AESS 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter Buckland
    • 1
    Email author
  • Eban Goodstein
    • 2
  • Rob Alexander
    • 3
  • Barry Muchnick
    • 4
  • Mary Ellen Mallia
    • 5
  • Neil Leary
    • 6
  • Rob Andrejewski
    • 7
  • Susannah Barsom
    • 8
  1. 1.Sustainability Institute and Department of Educational Theory and PolicyPenn State UniversityState CollegeUSA
  2. 2.Bard Center for Environmental PolicyAnnandale-on-HudsonUSA
  3. 3.Department of Political ScienceJames Madison UniversityHarrisonburgUSA
  4. 4.Department of Environmental StudiesSt. Mary’s College of MarylandSt. Mary’s CityUSA
  5. 5.Office for SustainabilityUniversity at AlbanyAlbanyUSA
  6. 6.Center for Sustainability Education, Dickinson CollegeCarlisleUSA
  7. 7.University of RichmondRichmondUSA
  8. 8.School of Earth, Energy & Environmental SciencesStanford UniversityStanfordUSA

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