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Educational policy and practice for a changing climate: What are the options?

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This project addresses questions about what changes or adaptations our education system may need to make in the immediate and short-to-medium term future, in response to climate change. The goal is to compile an overview of current thinking in this area, and present educators and educational policymakers with a set of options to consider. 

The project is guided by the research questions below. These questions may be subject to further refinement during the scoping phase. The project will not necessarily address all the questions in the first year.

  • According to national, international, and indigenous perspectives, how could Aotearoa’s education systems and policies respond to climate change?
  • To what extent is climate change considered an urgent issue or priority in the education system (for schools, kura, and in terms of system-level educational policy and planning)
  • What can be learned from kura Māori and kaupapa Māori approaches and responses?
  • What are the implications or impacts of student-, school-,  and community-led climate responses for the educational system in Aotearoa New Zealand?
  • What might education look like in Aotearoa New Zealand, if climate change mitigation and adaptation were factored into policy and practice across the system?

The project methodology includes literature review, survey data, and approximately 20 key informant interviews. Five priority perspectives for the initial interviews are:  Youth perspectives, Māori perspectives, Pacific New Zealander perspectives, System/policy/academic perspectives, and Educator perspectives. 

Surveys of English-medium schools

In 2019 we asked principals and teachers questions about  climate change and sustainability questions in the 2019 NZCER National Survey of primary and intermediate schools (link to report at the bottom of the page)

In 2020 we surveyed teachers and leaders from a sample of secondary and composite schools about whole-school and classroom climate and sustainability practices (link to report at bottom of the page).

Key informant interviews

In October 2020 we published a report of key themes from key informant interviews (link at bottom of the page).

Article in NZ Principal Magazine

Rachel Bolstad wrote an article for NZ Principal Magazine, "Climate change - what can schools do?" March 2020, volume 35, number 1, pp. 24-28. To read the article click here.

Are you interested in contributing to this project?

We are seeking to make further connections with educators and students involved in educational activities and responses relating to climate changeWe are especially interested in learning about solution-focused practices, localised activities,  effective collaboration with community organisations, and student engagement and agency. If you would like to contribute, please register on the form here.  

Educational policy and practice for a changing climate: What are the options? project publications: