State of the Planet

News from the Columbia Climate School

A Global Teach-in Explores Paths From Classrooms to Climate Change Impact

I pretty much live with climate education every waking hour, well beyond the learning and communicating I do here through my writing and in my Sustain What webcasts.

At Columbia’s Climate School, my communication initiative is embedded in a pioneering effort to expand a degree-granting program that interlaces disciplines across a big university – from Teachers College through engineering and architecture through basic climate science through the arts and humanities.

My wife, Lisa Mechaley, works for a small organization that helps K-12 teachers build sustainability concepts into their existing lesson plans — from Houston to New York and beyond. You can imagine our breakfast and dinner brainstorms! (We also wrote a book together on humanity’s weather and climate learning journey.)

So I was excited last year when Eban Goodstein, a friend running the sustainability center up the Hudson River at Bard College, reached out to describe an ambitious worldwide teach-in on climate solutions and climate justice — centered on today, March 30, but also living on via the hashtag #MakeClimateAClass and the website You can also sign a pledge to make climate a class.

Of course no one is going to “solve climate by 2030” given the massive scales of the challenge building a safer human relationship with climate and energy. Goodstein said from the start the intent is to provoke and engage. And the map of participation shows it’s working.

A map of climate justice and action teach-ins and related events.
A map of climate justice and action teach-ins and related events.

On Monday, I hosted a Sustain What conversation on paths to effective and widespread climate education with two pioneers working to build the capacity of teachers and students everywhere to understand and act on climate risks.

They were Jing Lin, a professor of international education at the University of Maryland, College Park, and Oren Pizmony-Levy, a professor of international and comparative education at Columbia’s Teachers College and Director of the Center for Sustainable Futures there.

We were joined by a batch of their great students and received amazing input from the audience, including Mujidah Ajibola, an educator building a Climate Literacy and Action Project in Abujah, Nigeria, and Paul Elliott, a teacher educator at Trent University in Ontario and co-chair of the Canada-wide organization Environmental and Sustainability Education in Teacher Education. Watch the webcast below.

Read the full post on the Sustain What blog.

Banner featuring a collage of extreme heat images.

Recent record-breaking heat waves have affected communities across the world. The Extreme Heat Workshop will bring together researchers and practitioners to advance the state of knowledge, identify community needs, and develop a framework for evaluating risks with a focus on climate justice. Register by June 15

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