Children are well aware of climate change. By the time they enter early childhood education, they are increasingly likely to have lived through floods or bushfires or know of people in their family or community who have been negatively affected by climate change.
Children make sense of their world based on their experiences and the understanding they develop from their experiences. What should young children learn in order to build confidence and hope for the future in our rapidly changing world? What do we teach that will help to create liveable futures?
Children are the designers, builders, teachers, healers, scientists, and politicians of the future, and they already know a lot and have a lot to say about the world they want to live in.
The newly established Early Years Living Lab in the School of Education is tackling these questions for Tasmanian children and educators. Under the leadership of Professor Iris Duhn, the lab emphasises creative and generative educational approaches to climate change education that will enable children and adults to feel empowered to take climate action where they live. Place-based climate change education for Tasmania and for the planet is the lab’s focus and these themes are reflected in a new Graduate Diploma in Early Years Leadership for Climate Action.
Sustainability is linked to place and we understand that places matter in a range of complex ways. The Franklin River in Tasmania’s south-west emerged on the global stage 40 years ago to transform what was possible in environmental conservation.
For many campaigners, their resistance to the proposed damming of the river was provoked by the place itself, leading to a new engagement with environment, sustainability, community, and government policy development.
It is this possibility for unique places and communities to provoke cultural, employment, and political change that inspires Associate Professor Marcus Morse. He leads the development of an interdisciplinary Bachelor of Outdoor and Environmental Education course that will draw on Tasmania’s unique environments, places, experiences, and people. It’s hard to imagine a better place for such a course.
Alongside the development of new courses and focused research activities that explicitly address our responsibilities to understand climate change and the challenge of living sustainably, the School of Education ensures that all of our graduates heading to classrooms as teachers are aware of the crucial nature of education for sustainability and climate change.
As a result, teaching graduates from the University are ready and able to support children in their future classrooms to think and act in ways that prepare them for the vast and complex challenges facing the world today and to live sustainably in their place.
As Dr Kim Beasy, the lead of the School’s Education for Sustainability Working Group, notes: “We want our graduate teachers to feel that their role in society, in schools, and in classrooms is a powerful one, and to know they make a difference through the relationships they form with people and place, and through what and how they teach every day.
Start your journey educating the next generation, empowering them to shape their own sustainable future. Learn more about our Education course options, including our 18-month Master of Teaching.
Main image: Bush class at Taroona Primary, Hobart
This story features in the 2023 edition of It's in our nature - a collection of stories that celebrate and highlight the unique work being undertaken by our institution, and the people within it, to deliver a more fair, equitable and sustainable society.
Explore sustainability at the University of Tasmania and how you can get involved.
As we aim to be a global, sustainable and responsible leading institution, our efforts align with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.