A Regrounding in Truth: Climate Generation’s 16th Annual Summer Institute

By Lindsey Kirkland, Climate Education Manager and Marie Fargo, Climate Change Instructional Resources Coordinator

Good climate change education requires a holistic approach, one that speaks to the complexity of the climate system and investigates how political, economic, and social systems influence the impacts and solutions of climate change.

Climate Generation’s education programs are rooted in integrating many ways of knowing  and relating to the world, bringing the persistent inequities experienced by socially and racially marginalized communities to the fore, shifting power to youth and frontline communities creating solutions, and not relying on fear, but rather focusing on solutions.

We’re teaming up with some awesome partners to put on our 16th annual Summer Institute for Climate Change Education on July 28–30, 2021! We’re excited to present the Institute in partnership with NOAA’s Climate Office and The Wild Center’s Youth Climate Program for a second year in a row. Close to 250 educators will learn new skills, access resources, and gain the confidence to teach climate change. K-12 educators are registered from across the country that teach science, social studies, English Language Arts, math, and more.

We are also teaming up with 13 regional partners across North America, who are working to create an innovative, collaborative, and solutions-focused virtual conference centered on regional climate change impacts and solutions. Our cohort partners will each lead mini-workshops on day two of the Institute, focusing on climate change impacts, solutions, and relationship building across their regions.

The 60+ sessions at the Institute will feature resources, speakers, materials, and topics surrounding some of the best practices for climate change education. We are offering workshops under six themes. 

Take a sneak peek at some of the workshop offerings for each theme! 

Climate Change Science and Solutions: Explore the many facets of climate change impacts and solutions, hear from climate change scientists, and get resources to help teach about the connection between climate change evidence, impacts, and solutions.

Climate at your Fingertips: An Interactive Solutions Workshop

Allison Bender, Outreach and Events Coordinator with the Wisconsin Energy Institute

Cassandra Breeze Ceballos, Multisolving Program Coordinator at Climate Interactive

In this workshop, educators will practice multisolving, a systemic strategy of solving multiple social, economic, and climate issues with one solution. To do this, educators will explore EN-ROADS, a free climate simulation model, to observe how enacting various proposed climate solutions including electrification and afforestation would impact global temperatures over time. Participants will also discuss how these climate solutions can simultaneously connect communities, increase health and wellbeing, and advance equity.

Climate Connections for Meaningful Impact

Dr. Marianne Krasny, Professor and Director of the Civic Ecology Lab at Cornell University

Bethany Jorgensen, PhD Candidate at Cornell University

Anne Armstrong, PhD Candidate at Cornell University

Cornell University’s Civic Ecology Lab seeks to understand the catalysts and outcomes of grassroots environmental stewardship practices such as volunteer tree planting, litter cleanups, and community gardening and their role in adapting to and mitigating climate change impacts. In this workshop, researchers from the Civic Ecology Lab will share ways in which individuals can make a difference by applying research on how environmental behaviors spread in social networks. Educators will walk away with an understanding of how their individual actions (and those they take with their students) are connected to systemic change.

Combatting Misinformation, Science Denial, and Developing Media Literacy: Learn the skills and get the tools you need to help your students fight science denial, combat misinformation, and develop media literacy about the causes and solutions of climate change.

Dollars, Disinformation, and Destruction: How the oil and gas industry pushed climate denial in America

Gabi Porter, Campaigns Director at Center for Climate Integrity

Porter will give educators a brief history of the oil and gas industry’s multimillion-dollar investment in sowing disinformation and denial around climate change in order to protect their profits, and will provide insight into how these industries continue pushing disinformation today. Educators will leave with a stronger understanding of the sources and strategies used to deceive the public and discredit science so that they can identify them with their students.

Fighting Fake News – Tools For Identifying Misinformation and Countering Science Denial

Milan Neeley, Biology Teacher at Minhang Crosspoint High School in China through California Crosspoint Academy

Educators in this workshop will explore resources and practice techniques (such as the FLICC method popularized by John Cook) to help students think critically about the information they find and identify misinformation. This workshop will also discuss how science denialism affects the fight for climate justice. Participants will develop a better understanding of how to address misinformation and empower their students to combat science denial.

Exploring Ways of Knowing: Investigate how cultural practices and personal beliefs impact our understanding of climate change, and practice integrating many ways of knowing and investigating global phenomena in their lesson plans.

Another Lens’ Perspective, It is Still Global Climate

LaStelshia Speaks, Special Educator and Social-Emotional Learning Educator with Baltimore County Public Schools and NCSE Teacher Ambassador

Educators will discuss a variety of educational strategies to work with universal learners. These techniques will focus on interdisciplinary education, social-emotional learning, and cross-curricular skills, particularly as they relate to climate change. Participants will have the opportunity to reflect upon how best to advocate for and support students in special education classrooms when addressing climate change impacts and solutions.

Whose Climate Science?  Weaving Culture and Science Together for Climate Action

Cathy Techtmann, University of Wisconsin-Madison Division of Extension Environmental Outreach Specialist

Despite research documenting the importance of place-based and cultural evidence in increasing climate literacy, climate change is often presented using a “Western” science framework. As a result, many climate education strategies fail to resonate with all learners.

This session will share how indigenous science and culture are equal tools to “Western” science in evaluating climate change and relating it to learners. Educators will explore how to weave together qualitative and quantitative ways of knowing using the G-WOW climate literacy model to promote climate awareness and action for learners in all locations and cultures.

Beliefs in Stories and Personal Experiences: Develop skills to help your students uncover their climate stories and learn how writing, art, and climate fiction engages and inspires people to take climate change action.

The Power is YOURS: How stories can help students uncover their real-world superpowers

Matt Scott, Storytelling Manager at Project Drawdown

How can you use stories to help young people in your classroom and community see their power when it comes to climate change? Project Drawdown’s Matt Scott will help educators answer this question through human-centered storytelling. Educators will gain skills and techniques to engage audiences of all ages and empower them to share their stories as a climate change solution.

Crafting Your Climate Story

Jothsna Harris, Director of Community Engagement at Climate Generation

Learn the power of personal narrative as a tool for climate action. This interactive workshop consists of a series of prompts that invite individual writing, reflection and small group sharing to help educators develop their climate story. Participants will leave with ideas for replicating these exercises with their students.

Shifting Power and Voice to Marginalized Communities: Explore the socio-political history of climate change, hear historically sidelined narratives, and reimagine justice-focused climate change lesson planning that centers communities that are most impacted.

Redlining and Environmental Justice

Dr. Robert K. Nelson, Director of the Digital Scholarship Lab and Head of Digital Engagement in Boatwright Library at the University of Richmond

LaDale Winling, Associate Professor of History at Virginia Tech University

Nelson and Winling will share the Mapping Inequality Project, an online tool they developed to illustrate historical redlining across the United States. Educators will explore the relationships between twentieth century racial discrimination in housing policy and lending and the current environmental injustices that exist today by viewing historical maps of various cities. Educators will also reflect on and discuss how these racist practices and policies impact themselves, their students, and their schools, and how they might use this tool in their curriculum to elevate marginalized voices experiencing environmental justices.

Teachers as Advocates for Youth Power: Lean into the wisdom and hope of our next generation by talking with youth in the climate justice movement, developing the skills to be a youth ally, and learning how to support inspired students through civic engagement.

Navigating Difficult Conversations: Strategies for Current and Societal Issue Discussions

Mary Ellen Daneels, National Board Certified high school teacher and Civics Instructional Specialist with the Illinois Civic Mission Coalition

Daneels will offer skills and techniques for engaging students in civil discourse both in-person and virtually. Educators will receive tools and ideas to help them facilitate classroom discussions that align with learning goals and state standards. Participants will leave with an enhanced ability to help their students have difficult conversations about societal issues.

With disinformation on all fronts threatening our collective ability to act on the truth about climate change, we believe now more than ever that a regrounding in speaking and teaching truth is exactly what’s needed to support educators as they teach young leaders across the country.

Our overarching focus of the Institute, “A Regrounding in Truth,” addresses that need and also draws critical connections between the systemic injustices of the causes, impacts, and solutions of climate change.

Register for the Summer Institute

We’re proud to coordinate the Teach Climate Network (TCN), a national network of educators dedicated to learning the newest teaching practices of climate change education, and leading their communities to more equitable, long-lasting climate change solutions. Educators in the TCN attend our annual Summer Institute for Climate Change Education, learn the best practices of Climate Change Education through the Teach Climate Tips e-newsletter, participate in community networking opportunities during our Teach Climate Network meetings and workshops, and attend year round professional development opportunities, trainings, and events. Learn more and join the Teach Climate Network.

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