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Opportunities for education in a changing climate: Themes from key informant interviews

Rachel Bolstad

How can education in Aotearoa New Zealand respond to climate change?

This report, part of our wider education and climate change project, outlines findings from 17 in-depth interviews with individuals with a range of viewpoints about climate change and the role of education. Five priority perspectives are covered: youth (aged 16–25); educators; Māori; Pacific New Zealanders; and people with an academic, education system, or policy perspective. 

Key findings are: 

  • Education offers an important opportunity for diverse children and young people to engage in positive, solutions-focused climate learning and action.  
  • Interviewees shared local examples of effective climate change educational practice, but said it was often down to individual teachers, students, and schools choosing to make it a focus. 
  • Most interviewees said that climate change needs to be a more visible priority across the education system.  

The perspectives and examples shared suggest there is scope for growth and development in the way that schools and the wider education system in Aotearoa New Zealand respond to climate change. Interviewees’ experiences suggest that localised innovation and change is possible, particularly when young people and communities are informed about the causes and consequences of climate change, and are engaged with what they can do to make a difference. However, effective responses to climate change are affected by wider systems, societal and political structures, norms, and mindsets. 

Interviewee recommendations for schools, kura, and other learning settings include: 

  • Supporting diverse children and young people to develop their ideas and visions for a sustainable future, and to identify actions they can take to realise that future.  
  • Involving children and young people in collective and local approaches, and community-wide responses to climate change.  
  • Scaffolding learners to ensure that they were building key knowledge, as well as developing ethical thinking, systems thinking, and critical thinking. 
  • Focusing on new career opportunities and pathways in an economic transition to a low-carbon, changed climate future.  
  • Getting children and young people engaged and excited about what they can do, rather than disengaged, depressed, or feeling like they have no control of their future.  
Year published: 
Publication type: 
Research report
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