The United Nations Climate Change Conference is currently taking place in Copenhagen. 192 countries have been hanging out in Denmark since last week, trying to tackle the ambitious agenda of agreeing on a new international framework for climate change mitigation. Add to the overambitious targets the protests, arrests, hoaxes, walkouts, and boycotts, and it is hard to be hopeful about the outcomes of this conference.
As educators, we try to find a balance between teaching students about the complex, unpalatable realities of controversial world issues, and inspiring a sense of hope and possibility in our students. I will be tackling the teachability of COP15 for one of my courses in January. This is a bit half-assed but I want to get something up here about the conference before the thing ends on Dec. 18.
So…introducing the Unite for Climate campaign. The Unite for Climate website is an online hub for youth, part of the UN’s official COP15 page. It provides opportunities for kids to learn about climate change through various media, get involved in grassroots campaigns organized by young people around the world, and network and participate in the conversation. It also regularly publishes news about youth involvement at the conference – profiles of the young Climate Ambassadors, and highlights from the Children’s Climate Forum that took place in Copenhagen the week before the grown-ups’ conference.
The site also features “Connecting Classrooms” – an online curriculum that pairs classes from around the world and allows them to dialogue, debate, and work collaboratively to analyze and problem-solve around global issues. The current module focuses on climate change and the COP15 conference. From perusing the website, it looks like all you need to take part in Connecting Classrooms is a secondary school classroom supervised by a designated teacher, internet access, and a one hour per week time committment. Sounds pretty cool.
Climate change is an issue that kids care deeply about, and making them aware of how their everyday choices can impact the environment is no great feat. That’s the easy part. I’ll keep thinking about how to guide students through some of the murkier ‘oil-sands of the mind’ – that is, the economic and political realities – that have bogged down their elders at the Copenhagen conference.
Anyone have a good idea? A lesson that has worked in your classroom? A resource that might be of use? Please share!