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Chapter 14 The “Ecosystem” of Education, Engagement, and Environmental Action in Higher Education


As a rising sophomore at Columbia University (as of the summer of 2020), my engagement with climate and environmental education spans multiple community settings, each with its challenges. Having committed myself to environmental stewardship and science communication, I am learning how to adapt to different audiences. The most important lesson I’ve learned is that climate action education must be made personal: students themselves must reach a critical understanding that their lives are inextricably tied to the state of the planet. We can become more powerful as agents of change by providing students with sustainable development as a framework, so that they may, through experiential learning, integrate climate issues with their respective academic interests. For the sake of increasing resiliency, quality undergraduate education must be reoriented to incorporate climate literacy and systems thinking across all academic disciplines. The radical simplicity and effectiveness of this approach further supports the growth of “translational” competencies; that is, the approach empowers and catalyzes students to move radical change beyond the classroom, even as they transition to virtual schooling. My self-driven approach to learning has opened many doors for translating education into action beyond the classroom. In this essay, I highlight the key points in my journey so far with sustainable development education.

Open Access
In: Curriculum and Learning for Climate Action