Learning to change: Climate action pedagogy

The Australian Association of Adult and Community
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Australian Journal of Adult Learning, 2022, 62, (3), pp. 414-423
Issue Date:
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This article considers higher education’s role in climate crisis, reflecting on the potential of action-oriented pedagogy. As a reflection on practice, the authors consider a new postgraduate course, Climate Crisis and Action (CCA), launched in 2022 as one of a suite of new courses using inside-out pedagogy in one of the oldest (and most recently holistically redesigned) Master of Environmental Management (MEM) programs in Australia, at the University of New South Wales (UNSW). Over ten weeks, while building foundational climate literacy underscored by imperatives of justice and education, CCA prioritises student leadership, active citizenship, and professional agency for real-world impact. We detail four key elements of the course design: 1) repositioning the course convenor as academic-facilitator to empower students to see climate crisis as a shared challenge addressed through joint contribution, 2) establishing an atmosphere of collective intelligence, shared accountability, and affect-based learning, 3) designing assessments that embed solutions and pedagogy to position students as climate innovators and educators, and 4) providing leadership opportunities in real-time to support students to experience their own growing expertise and professional agency. The approach reflects two motivations: to engage students with the immediacy and urgency of climate crisis, and to extend the core function of teaching academics to support real-world problem solving, social innovation and societal transformation.
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