30 ONLINE 20 A, Climate Change Education - Part 1
Paper Session to be continued in 30 ONLINE 21 A
MeetingID: 862 1733 6952 Code: UCWmg2
The proposed paper combines theoretical insights from critical development education (Stambach 2000), political ecology (Lloro-Bidart 2015), and global citizenship education (Scheunpflug 2019) to analyze secondary-school textbooks from across the curriculum in Europe and compare them to textbooks from African countries to gain a better understanding of the official messages about climate change and environmental degradation (CCED) promulgated in schools.
The project was developed in response to the two somewhat contradictory discourses that currently shape educational policies, research, and practices as a means to counteract CCED. One the one hand, schools around the world are increasingly tasked with teaching students about their responsibilities and increasing their competences in dealing with CCED (UNESCO 2017). On the other hand, claims that schools and education more broadly have to change fundamentally in order to actually achieve the former objective are gaining traction in the international community (cf. Common Worlds Research Collective [CWRC] 2020; UNESCO 2021). Some scholars doubt that current efforts can foster the kinds of learning needed to alter ongoing processes of multispecies extinction. Critical scholars of environmental education, for instance, fear that efforts in education for sustainable development too easily dismiss inherent tensions between economic and ecological dimensions; privilege technical, market-oriented solutions over critical inquiry, cultural and emotional attachment and political action (Jickling and Wals 2008). Posthumanist critiques point to the perseverance of Western education models, which leave colonial logics of human exceptionalism although they are at the core of irreversible climatic changes (Komatsu et al. 2020).
To investigate contradictions between education as mechanism for change and education as (one of) the culprits, on the one hand, and tensions between competing learning objectives, on the other hand, the project provides an empirical analysis of secondary-school textbooks from Finland, and Germany, and compared them to textbooks from Ghana and Malawi; answering the following questions: How is the environment conceptualized in schoolbooks? How are relationships between humans and the environment described? Who is held responsible for causing and mitigating climate change? How are social, economic, ecological, and political systems of interdependencies portrayed? What kinds of worldviews (e.g., religious believes) are included in the textbooks, how are they portrayed, and what ‘role’ are they assigned in environmental learning?
Findings show that despite visible differences in curriculum design, the textbooks promulgate comparatively similar dualistic, human-centered, utilitarian understandings of the environment focusing on individual rights and responsibility to manage and improve nature through modernization processes. All four sets portrayed individuals and to a lesser extend industrialization processes as responsible for causing and mitigating CCED, while rarely addressing global power dynamics and interdependencies. There is relatively little discussion of the roles of political and economic actors and little content on how to instigate, for instance, political action against climate change. Even if Finnish textbooks differentiate themselves by addressing these issues more frequently, and in more complex ways, than their counterparts. Besides, a focus on what exactly constitutes individual responsibilities varies between European and African textbooks. While Ghanaian and Malawian materials emphasized individual action for modernization and economic progress, Finish and German materials centered on individuals’ lifestyle choices. The European and African sets of textbooks also differed concerning their treatment of non-European worldviews (i.e., Indigenous knowledges). While the African materials condemned Indigenous practices as outdated superstition, European materials romanticized such practices and feared the loss of them but without in-depth discussions of colonial systems of exploitation, extraction and extinction. Especially in German textbooks, reflections on human-earth relationships provided a venue to engage learners in Non-Christian religious perspectives (e.g., Hinduism).
To answer the above research questions, we collected two sets of textbooks from Finish and German secondary school curricula and compared them to each other. Germany is a federal state in which education falls under the jurisdiction of individual states (rather than the federal government). Textbooks are published by various publishers and require official approval. The research focused on the state of Bavaria and the sample includes 8th grade textbooks on geography, biology, religious studies and ethics from different publishers). In Finland, the Basic Education system comprises grade 1 to 9. Schools teach according to the national core curriculum that stipulates contents, mandatory subjects, time distribution, and common directions. Schools together with local authorities can allocate content across grade levels. Therefore, the Finish sample includes 7th to 9th grade textbooks on natural sciences, history, geography, health, home economics, ethics, religious and social studies. To analyze the textbook materials, we followed four steps (Saldaña 2013): first, we prepared the textbook materials for coding by using a set of descriptive codes to pull all segments related to CCED and human-earth interactions from all collected textbooks into a new document for each country; second, we created a codebook that included deductive codes derived from the theoretical framework and inductive codes derived from the textbook materials themselves; third, we repeatedly read through both sets of materials, applying the deductive and inductive codes; and fourth, we conducted analytical workshops where we reviewed the datasets side-by-side and developed broader themes related to the research questions. In addition, we compared the data sets collected in the GENE-funded research to two sets of textbooks from Ghana and Malawi collected in previous research (Ress et al., forthcoming). The Malawian and Ghanaian samples include 8th grade textbooks on social and natural sciences, agriculture, arts, and religious studies. We compared the findings from both projects because we expect that that differences particularly in religious and ethical studies (cf. Sakaranaho 2014) will translate into diverse approaches to human-earth relationships, thus contribute to the plurality in ontological and epistemological perspectives on environmental learning.
Strikingly, though not surprisingly given the colonial histories of formal education and neocolonial dependencies in the production of textbooks in the African context, the four sets of textbooks displayed similarities with regards to the individualization of responsibility for causing and mitigating CCED accompanied by little to no discussions of global power dynamics and economic interdependencies. In the light of the conference’s overarching emphasis on global constellations and local specificities, the proposes paper will focus on presenting the different kinds of worldviews (e.g., religious believes) included in the textbooks to invite conversations on contextualization and reproduction of difference through environmental learning.
Common Worlds Research Collective (CWRC). 2020. Learning to Become with the World:Education for Future Survival. In UNESCO Futures of Education Report. July 2, 2021. https://learningportal.iiep.unesco.org/en/library/learning-to-become-with-the-worldeducation-for-future-survival. Jickling, Bob, and Arjen E. J. Wals. 2008. “Globalization and Environmental Education: Looking beyond Sustainable Development.” Journal of Curriculum Studies 40 (1): 1–21. Komatsu, Hikaru, Jeremy Rappleye, and Iveta Silova. 2020. "Will Education Post-2015 Move Us toward Environmental Sustainability?." In Grading Goal Four, pp. 297-321. Brill Sense. Lloro-Bidart, Teresa. 2015. “A Political Ecology of Education in/for the Anthropocene.” Environment and Society 6 (1): 128–48. Ress, S., Kendall, N., Fridson-Ridenour, S., & Ampofo, Y. (forthcoming). Representations of humans, climate change and environmental degradation in African school curricula. Comparative Education Review. Saldaña, Johnny. 2013 The Coding Manual for Qualitative Researchers and Qualitative Data Analysis: A Methods Sourcebook. Sage Publications. Scheunpflug, A. (2021). Global learning: Educational research in an emerging field. European Educational Research Journal, 20(1), 3-13. Stambach, Amy. 2000. “Lessons from Mount Kilimanjaro.” Schooling, Community and Gender in East. New York: Routledge. UNESCO. (2017). Education for sustainable development goals: Learning objectives. https://www.sdg4education2030.org/education-sustainable-development-goals-learning-objectives-unesco-2017. UNESCO. (2021). Reimagining our futures together: A new social contract for education. Report from the International Commission on the Futures of Education. https://en.unesco.org/futuresofeducation/.
- Search for keywords and phrases in "Text Search"
- Restrict in which part of the abstracts to search in "Where to search"
- Search for authors and in the respective field.
- For planning your conference attendance you may want to use the conference app, which will be issued some weeks before the conference
- If you are a session chair, best look up your chairing duties in the conference system (Conftool) or the app.