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29 October 2021
Teaching About Climate Change in the Midst of Ecological Crisis: Professional and Ethical Responsibilities
Dr Jennifer Bleazby, Monash University
Dr Ilana Finefter-Rosenbluh, Monash University
Associate Professor Gilbert Burgh, The University of Queensland
Adjunct Associate Professor Mary Graham, The University of Queensland
Associate Professor Alan Reid, Monash University
Dr Simone Thornton, The University of Queensland
As UNESCO (2019) states, “climate change is the defining challenge of our time” and education is “an essential element for mounting an adequate response to it”. As part of our collective moral responsibility for addressing climate change, teachers have specific responsibilities, including helping students to understand climate science and encouraging students to develop pro-environmental values and behaviours. However, these responsibilities can give rise to ethical or professional dilemmas, which may impede quality climate change education. For example, because of the politicised public debate about climate change, teachers may fear accusations of political indoctrination if they encourage students to accept, and act on, climate science (Kissling and Bell, 2020). Problematically, this leads many teachers to adopt a ‘teaching the controversy’ approach – i.e., they teach ‘both sides’ of the debate in neutral a manner (Colston, N.M. & Vadjunec, J.M., 2015). Such dilemmas can be even more pronounced when teaching within the context of ecological crises, like the 2019-2020 Australian bushfires, as such crises can further provoke intense feelings and public debate about climate change. Educational philosophy is pertinent to understanding and responding to these issues, especially literature on indoctrination; values education; the teaching of controversial topics; epistemological criteria and curriculum content; student voice and student participation rights; and teacher professional ethics.
We invite submissions that explore any of the following themes or related topics:
- What sorts of ethical responsibilities, if any, do teachers have, and what sorts of dilemmas might they encounter, when teaching about climate change, especially in the context of ecological crises?
- Should teachers support students’ environmental activism, such as the School Strike 4 the Climate?
- Do some forms of climate change education constitute political indoctrination and, if so, does this make them unethical?
- Should teachers teach the claims of climate change deniers, alongside climate science? If so, how should they be taught and what is their epistemological status?
- How can teachers foster their students’ capacities for independent thinking and autonomy while actively encouraging them to adopt pro-environmental values?
- Should teachers use ecological crises, like the 2019-2020 Australian bushfires, to promote pro-environmental values and behaviours or is this emotionally manipulative or insensitive?
- What philosophies, policies and practices might educators use to overcome these issues with climate change education (in particular, we welcome papers that examine indigenous philosophies and pedagogies; Philosophy for Children/Community of inquiry; pragmatist, feminist and non-Western theories).
 This special issue is part of a research project, generously funded by a Philosophy Education Society of Australasia (PESA) Research Grant.
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- April 9th, 2021: Due date for submission of abstract of 200-300 words. Abstracts to be sent to [email protected]
- by April 30th, 2021: Decisions on abstracts
- October 29th, 2021: Submission of 6000 word manuscript for review
- December, 10th: Reviews completed
- January 7th, 2022: Resubmissions of manuscript for re-review (if needed)
- Mid 2022: Publication on line in hard copy as soon as space available
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