Submit a Manuscript to the Journal

The Journal of Environmental Education

For a Special Issue on

Curriculum and pedagogy for climate change education

Manuscript deadline
30 November 2024

Cover image - The Journal of Environmental Education

Special Issue Editor(s)

Neus (Snowy) Evans, James Cook University, Australia
[email protected]

Chris Eames, University of Waikato, New Zealand
[email protected]

Doug Karrow, Brock University, Canada
[email protected]

Ellen Field, Lakehead University, Canada
[email protected]

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Curriculum and pedagogy for climate change education

This special issue aims to tackle the limits and difficult questions related to curriculum and pedagogy for climate change education (CCE) and implications for environmental and sustainability education (ESE). Curriculum and pedagogy are central to education and any education strategy for climate change action. However, limited research exists on CCE. A scan of published research reveals that CCE is easily identified, but not critically examined. Many contributors provide teaching and learning resources in the form of frameworks, strategies, games or case studies. Some provide theoretical visions, programs, suggestions or calls for action. However, only a few offer empirically based, contextualized and critical contributions to effective change.

This special issue seeks to go beyond a narrow collection of descriptive contributions that showcase ideals such as how curriculum and pedagogy for CCE has been, could or should be implemented or embedded into programs or courses. We invite papers that offer empirically-based, grounded and critical contributions to effective change. We also invite theoretical analysis and critically reflective reviews, insights and essays from across disciplinary fields.

Themes and Topics of Interest
The broad theme of curriculum and pedagogy inspires a set of sub-themes and several questions that provide possibilities for examination. We welcome contributions addressing, but not limited to, the following sub-themes and questions:

Curriculum and Pedagogical Theory
Studies in this sub-theme focus on how pedagogical theories influence practice; the way practice could enact such theory; or the potential for curriculum or pedagogical theory to critique existing programs. Most of the research operates within the anthropocentric paradigm and considers some aspect of critical theory and ways this could inform CCE. A small minority of research moves to post-humanism, adopting a subject-object ethical relation through co-emergence of humans with climate change or exploring new metaphors that inform worldviews around climate change.

Questions we have:

  • How do current understandings of curricular and/or pedagogical theory advance CCE?
  • How do anthropocentric and post-anthropocentric paradigms help us re-imagine CCE?

Curriculum and Pedagogical Policy
Research in this area exhibits the following characteristics: Some authors take a top-down approach in their analysis of alignment of CCE between international bodies and provincial Ministry of Education curricula. Others adopt a bottom-up approach examining existing CCE in Ministry of Education curricula juxtaposing this with a lack of CCE policy at the national level. Although both examples of research are oriented to curriculum and pedagogical CCE policy, their approaches to effecting change are distinctly different. As a result, there is significant capacity for further research in curriculum and pedagogical policy.

A question we have:

  • How can policy research on CCE effect change in our educational, social, cultural and political institutions?

Curriculum and Pedagogical Design
Research on curriculum design has examined where in the curriculum climate change might be taught through a holistic, interdisciplinary focus, and how distributed leadership across siloed curriculum areas could achieve this. Evaluations of the effectiveness of curricula approaches shows evidence that integrated approaches to learning in middle school can enhance student engagement and climate literacy. However, several authors point to the challenges of assessing climate literacy and complex reasoning. Resulting, more research is suggested in this key area.

Research on pedagogical design highlight ideas such as embedding climate change learning into adult literacy development, supporting students through affective pedagogies, and the potential value of risk analysis. Scholars have explored the power of pedagogies of hope and their relationship to agency in the face of climate anxiety and have emphasized the importance of involving the voice of youth. Evaluating the effectiveness of pedagogical moves has shown the potential of experiential, climate action planning projects, and of connecting to localized knowledge and groups. However, more evaluative studies addressing what appears to work and not work are needed.

Questions we have:

  • What are effective curriculum and pedagogical approaches for engaging students in meaningful climate action?
  • How can we evaluate if curricular and pedagogical approaches are effectively preparing young people for climate-challenged futures?

Teacher Perspectives
Research on teacher perspectives focuses on teachers’ perceptions of barriers and opportunities for teaching climate change content or investigates how teachers’ personal and professional beliefs influence their teaching of climate change content. There is also research focused on teacher identified needs for professional development, or the need for teachers to develop visioning skills. Some research evaluates specific teacher professional development programs while other research investigates reasons that teachers may not engage in CCE professional development. Research that further investigates teachers’ personal and professional beliefs, as well as how curriculum and pedagogy can be advanced through engagement and consultation with teachers would be beneficial.

Questions we have:

  • In what ways are teachers’ personal or professional beliefs a barrier or catalyst to inclusion of CCE content?
  • In what ways is collaborative research with teachers advancing curriculum and pedagogy for CCE?

Student Perspectives
A limited body of research on student perspectives of curriculum and pedagogy for CCE focuses on investigating students’ perceptions of effective climate change pedagogy, climate strikers’ views on curriculum and their CCE learning, as well as what specific issues are most relevant and how students envision these issues could be taught. It appears timely, therefore, for researchers to consider how students can be engaged in co-designing CCE policy or programs.

Questions we have:

  • How might we engage with students’ voices about their desires for CCE?
  • In what ways is research with young people refining curriculum or pedagogy related to CCE?

Methodological Approaches
There appears to be a disproportionate number of qualitative over quantitative and mixed methods designs with varied detail. Some scholars situate their research within a research paradigm, but others provide details on methods only, without offering information about the underpinning approach or methodology. Whilst such studies may have the characteristics of a particular research approach, the extent to which they are guided by the assumptions of the research paradigm is less clear. Clear explanation of the methodological approach or stance is important because clarity can assure validity and reliability of findings.

Questions we have:

  • How can the full range of quantitative, qualitative and mixed methods research construct and appropriate curriculum and pedagogical research for CCE?
  • How can the full range of quantitative, qualitative and mixed methods research respond to gaps in curriculum and pedagogy for CCE research?

Research Type
For research to make a meaningful contribution, it needs to engage with the complete spectrum of descriptive, intervention and evaluation research types. Knowledge of the types of research outputs enables researchers to determine if a field is progressing from describing a problem or situation and/or theorizing an issue to evaluating strategies and identifying those that are effective and can also be translated or adapted to the needs of other contexts. Current literature on curriculum and pedagogy for CCE is skewed towards descriptive over intervention and evaluation studies.

Questions we have:

  • What do descriptive, intervention and evaluation type studies tell us about the nature and progression of research on curriculum and pedagogy for CCE?
  • How do descriptive, intervention and evaluation type studies advance our understanding of curriculum and pedagogy for CCE?

Education Type
Education type focuses on whether the research took place in a formal, non-formal or informal context. Most research on curriculum and pedagogy in CCE has occurred within the formal education space. The few studies of the non-formal type are situated in the context of farming, theology, metropolitan community, and youth-led and gender transformative education for climate justice. Informal types of studies are focused on after school clubs or programs.

A question we have:

  • How can informal and non-formal education advance our understanding and practice in curriculum and pedagogy for CCE?

Education Level
Education level captures whether the research took place at the school, higher education or vocational level. At the primary and secondary levels research explores how teachers approach the teaching of climate change, curriculum materials and pedagogical strategies to build student capacity to take action for climate change, and resources for teaching climate change. Higher education studies provide examples showcasing how climate change can be embedded into curriculum and pedagogy, pedagogical strategies, and evaluation studies investigating the impacts of climate change curriculum on undergraduate student learning. We located one study in vocational education which investigated adult literacy teachers’ perspectives and experiences of integrating the topic of climate change into their teaching.

Questions we have:

  • What are the similarities and differences in approaches to curriculum and pedagogy for climate change across formal education levels?
  • How can formal education advance understanding and practice in informal and non-formal education for CCE?

Submission Instructions

Individual full papers up to 6000 words (excluding abstracts, references, tables and figures) should be submitted to special issues editors via JEE’s website (see 'Submit an Article' link directly below or also at the top of the page). When submitting your paper, please select 'Yes' for the Special Issue question ("Is the manuscript a candidate for a special issue?") and the 'Special issue title' ("Curriculum and pedagogy for climate change education") from the subsequent drop-down field. The "Instructions for Authors" page, detailing the journal’s comprehensive requirements for submission, are also linked directly below.

The special issue editors will review the papers and advise individual authors on preliminary acceptance or non-acceptance by 28 February, 2025. Authors should anticipate at least two reviews from the special issue editors before final submission by 30 November, 2025. The expected publication of the special issue is February 2026.

Instructions for AuthorsSubmit an Article