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Unit information: Education, Climate Change and Social Justice in 2020/21

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Unit name Education, Climate Change and Social Justice
Unit code EDUC10008
Credit points 20
Level of study C/4
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Sands
Open unit status Not open




School/department School of Education
Faculty Faculty of Social Sciences and Law

Description including Unit Aims

Is education succeeding in preparing students to deal with the pressing challenges facing our planet and societies? Many young people are voting with their feet in answer to this question, striking to highlight the ways that schools and governments are failing to address the climate crisis and leading on movements like Rhodes Must Fall and Why is My Curriculum White? that seek to challenge the way in which colonialism and racism endure in education. This unit explores key global challenges – the climate emergency, decolonialization, racism in education, displacement and migration, and others – by offering students tools to both understand and design proposals (or strategies) to address these challenges. The unit will take an exploratory and multidisciplinary look at what is known about climate change and will also examine the inter-relationship between climate change and other key issues. The unit will also give students the opportunity to creatively explore the role of education in developing hopeful proposals for responding to these challenges and for imagining social, political and economic alternatives that promote environmental, social and epistemic justice.

The unit aims to:

  • Provide opportunities to explore and understand a range of ways of knowing, and learning about, climate change and other pressing global challenges
  • Consider the role of education in (a) responding to the complexities of social, political, emotional and environmental issues related to climate change and other global challenges, and (b) addressing those issues in conjunction with other associated educational initiatives;
  • Develop an understanding of working across disciplines and with policy and activist generated knowledge in order to approach important contemporary issues;
  • Develop proposals for hopeful alternatives and sustainable futures based on engagement with social justice theory and activist practices.

Intended Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this unit students will be able to demonstrate that they can:

1. Develop an understanding of a range of ways of knowing and learning about climate change and other global challenges;

2. Consider the role of education in responding to the complexities of social, political, emotional and environmental issues related to climate change and other global challenges;

3. Examine and analyze academic research, policy briefings, educational and activist initiatives, working across disciplines in a challenge-led way;

4. Develop individual and collaborative research and creative presentations skills.

Teaching Information

Classes will involve a combination of lectures, class discussion, case studies, debates, critical analysis of key readings and group presentations.

Assessment Information

Summative assessment

Group Poster (25%), ILOs 1-4 - Students will develop and present a poster of their proposal for an action plan they develop for the final assessment.

Action plan (75%), 1,500 words, ILOs 1-4 - students will develop an action plan for education that recognises and responds to an issue covered on the unit. This might be an action plan at any level - global, national, institutional, classroom, or community. Students' action plans may take the form of a submission to the Green Apple scheme (see )

Reading and References

Andreotti, V.D.O., 2015. Global citizenship education otherwise: pedagogical and theoretical insights. In Decolonizing global citizenship education (pp. 221-229). Brill Sense.

Armstrong, A.K., Kransy, M.E., Sculdt, J.P. (2018). Communicating Climate Change. New York: Cornell University Press.

Dryden-Peterson, S. (2016). Refugee education: the crossroads of globalisation. Educational Researcher, 45(9), 473-482.

Holmberg, A. and Alvinius, A. (2020) ‘Children’s protest in relation to the climate emergency: A qualitative study on a new form of resistance promoting political and social change’, Childhood, 27(1), pp. 78–92. doi: 10.1177/0907568219879970.

Kenis, A., & Mathijs, E. (2012). Beyond individual behaviour change: the role of power, knowledge and strategy in tackling climate change. Environmental Education Research. 18 (1), 45-65.

doi: 10.1080/13504622.2011.576315

Learning Rebellion. XR’s educators’ page and resources:

Leichenko, R. and O'Brien, K., 2019. Climate and Society, Transforming the Future. John Wiley & Sons.

Rudolph, S. Sriprakash, A. and Gerrard, J. (2018). Knowledge and racial violence: the shine and shadow of ‘powerful knowledge’. Ethics and Education, 13(1), 23-38.

Thunberg, G., 2019. No one is too small to make a difference. Penguin.

Greta Thunberg’s public speeches on climate change (Dissertation). Retrieved from

Tuck, E. and Yang, K.W. (2012). Decolonisation is not a metaphor. Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education and Society, 1(1), 1-40.