Can Green Education Save The Planet

Can Green Education Save The Planet?

As the transformation to a sustainable future marches on, there is a need and an opportunity for education to play a critical role, according to this new Brookings Institute Report. The Report finds that the U.S. public education is among the most powerful tools for solving climate but our public education is lagging behind the crisis.

The Report suggests a new green learning agenda involves three approaches:

  • Approach 1 – Technical education and training aimed at “skills for green jobs” through a gender-transformative approach;
  • Approach 2 – Building “green life skills” or pro-environmental behaviors focused on climate change education (CCE) and education for sustainable development (ESD);
  • Approach 3 – Developing “skills for green transformation” by transforming mindsets and confronting the underlying structures of inequality and systems of oppression that sustain climate vulnerability.

Public, non-profit, and for-profit enterprises are taking note. For instance, last year New Jersey became the first U.S. state to incorporate climate change in its K-12 education curriculum. The new standards, which take effect in September 2021 and 2022, offer a broad outline that will allow school districts to craft instruction based on why the planet is warming and what can be done to mitigate it.

The W!SE Institute, a non-profit based in New York City that focuses on college and career readiness for high school students, has introduced Engineered Green Economics (EGE). The initiative prepares high school students to meet complex environmental and social challenges through sustainability education. Students learn about climate change, resource efficiency, clean energy, green careers and new technologies to address environmental, social and business mandates.

Earlier this month General Motors (GM) announced the launch of its GM Automotive Manufacturing Electric College (AMEC). To support the automaker’s clean energy transformation including 30 new electric vehicles by 2025 and hitting zero tailpipe emissions by 2035, many of its employees will receive electric vehicle training through AMEC.

Bending the Curve: Climate Change Solutions™ is a multifaceted education project initiated by the University of California. The education is centered around a curriculum designed to empower a million climate champions across the world to solve the climate change problem. It draws inspiration from the report Bending the Curve: 10 Scalable Solutions written by 50 University of California (UC) academics in natural sciences including engineering and technology, social sciences, and humanities.

Energetic, an innovative board game available in physical and digital editions is being used in classes at Carnegie Mellon, Vanderbilt, Wofford College, Yale, Barnard, the Bronx High School of Science as well as other academic institutions and corporations to help students and teachers understand the impacts of climate change and to show the interactions between climate, energy and politics that are required to decarbonize society.

A broad spectrum of colleges and universities now offer bachelor’s and master’s degrees in sustainability as well as customized executive education options, including short courses and certificates. Trish Kenlon, Founder of Sustainable Career Pathways, suggests 33 sustainability certifications professionals should be aware of, including general sustainability, climate, reporting, green buildings, energy and specialty (such as supply chain).


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