Curriculum Perspectives

, Volume 37, Issue 1, pp 83–89 | Cite as

Climate Change: Imagining, Negotiating, and Co-Creating Future(S) with Children and Youth

  • Ellen Field
Point and Counterpoint


With an understanding that children and young people will be severely affected by climate change consequences, this paper asks, what role should they have in their education or in civil decisions that will impact their quality of life in a climate-altered world? The paper argues that too often educational responses to uncertainty result in instrumental approaches where children and youth are not given agency to be active participants in their educational choices. Educational responses that emphasize participatory, place-based and transformative or emancipatory approaches to learning are likely to be more generative and responsive to young people’s needs.Using Kagwa and Selby’s (2010) framing that climate change offers a “learning moment [that] can be seized to think about what really and profoundly matters, to collectively envision better futures, and then to become practical visionaries in realizing the future” (p.5), the paper suggests two educational shifts that will help formal education systems become responsive to the needs of the twenty-first century. The first shift, adopting community as curriculum, focuses on knowledge production becoming a participatory process that is practiced with and amongst community members trying to solve local problems. The second shift, adopting a connected learning approach, focuses on harnessing the advances of innovations of the digital age with an equity agenda to address local issues. The paper outlines case examples which highlight how these shifts create pathways for what environmental sustainability education calls for in order to foster creative engagement in emergent change, facilitated by new approaches to learning and ways of organizing.


Climate change Education Young people Futures 


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Copyright information

© Australian Curriculum Studies Association 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Alliance of Leading Environmental Researchers and Thinkers (ALERT)Lakehead UniversityThunder BayCanada
  2. 2.Centre for Research and Innovation in Sustainability EducationJames Cook UniversityCairnsAustralia

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