Summer Institute for Climate Change Education

In partnership with the Lowell School and NOAA Climate Office
Washington, D.C.
August 5-7, 2019

The Summer Institute provided educators from across the country with the skills, resources, and confidence to integrate climate change education into Humanities subjects. It was three days packed with activities and sessions using literature, international policy, systems thinking, writing, discovering techniques for identifying misinformation, action projects, and experiential learning to teach climate!

Welcome Video

Written and narrated by Abigail Stark, 6th grade student at the Lowell School in Washington, D.C. welcoming teachers to the Summer Institute for Climate Change Education, presented by Climate Generation.

Where do attending educators teach?

Explore the Summer Institute

We featured new resources from Climate Generation and the Lowell School, Innovation and Renewable Energy: A Humanities Module, Water Scarcity and Perseverance: A Humanities Module, and Reading Guide to show teachers how climate change can be taught using literature.  Educators discovered their personal connection to climate change by writing reflections based on prompts at a Storytelling Workshop, and had the opportunity to share their stories with the group. We offered many role-playing exercises, including the World Climate Simulation, which is a model of the United Nations climate change negotiations.

We were honored to welcome keynote speakers Mamta Mehra, PhD, senior fellow at Project Drawdown, who shared the top solutions to reverse climate change and the research being done to address those solutions. John Cook, Research Assistant Professor at the Center for Climate Change Communication, George Mason University, and founder of, shared his research addressing how to recognize science denial and misconception based learning.

Educators learned about Washington, D.C.’s climate action plan from Climate Program Analyst, Melissa Deas, toured the American Geophysical Union’s Net Zero building, and explored the city on a field trip looking for examples of solutions to climate change. We recorded the data found throughout the day using an ArcGIS app called Survey123, and analyzed the information and discussed how to use a model like this with students.


Educators indicated their level of confidence in teaching about various concepts related to climate change before and after they attended the Summer Institute in a survey. In every category, the confidence levels of teaching these concepts increased.

In the Media

How Teachers Can Empower the Climate Generation

D.C. Teachers Navigate Emotions, Tough Questions In Lessons On Climate Change
WAMU 88.5

No Plan B: Youth Leading The Charge On Climate
1A – NPR

What participants are saying…

“This experience was life-changing. I teach AP Environmental Science and felt that I had a good background on this subject, but only in the context of science. Adding the humanities aspect was so impactful for me. Thank you for this meaningful experience, I hope to use these resources with as many students in my school as possible to instill hope and action for climate change in their lives.”

“The Summer Institute is something that could never be taught through an online course, a webinar, a textbook or an email. Being in person, hearing from climate scientists, Indigenous people, those who are spearheading solutions to tackle the climate crisis was so powerful.”

“The Climate Generation workshop inspired me to value my climate story and inspire students to become part of the solution to climate change. I now have important tools and information that will assist me in this work. I strongly recommend this program.”


Day 1

Why Climate Change Education in the Humanities?
Timeline Activity

Keynote Speaker: Mamta Mehra, PhD, senior fellow at Project Drawdown

Climate Change Mixer
Drawdown Solutions Quiz


Data to Life: Climate Change through the Lens of Art

Making Connections: Writing and Telling Your Climate Story

Breakout Sessions
Hands on Humanities: Teaching climate change through role-plays and simulations

Connecting Climate Change and Systems Thinking

Day 2

World Climate Simulation from Climate Interactive
World Climate Presentation


Keynote Speaker: John Cook, Research Assistant Professor at the Center for Climate Change Communication, George Mason University, and Founder of
Responding to Climate Change Misinformation Presentation
Accompanying Lesson Plans

Climate Fiction Resources and Integrating Concepts

Breakout Sessions
Teaching Standards: Using climate change education to boost student achievement

Project Drawdown Solutions as Inspiration for Student Action Projects

What evidence is there to show there is a rise in global temperature?

Storytelling Slam

Optional: Climate Change Trivia at Silver Branch Brewing

Day 3

American Geophysical Union Net Zero Building
American Geophysical Union Education Opportunities

Keynote Speaker: Melissa Deas, Climate Program Analyst with the Department of Energy and Environment’s (DOEE) Urban Sustainability Administration
D.C. Climate Action Plan Presentation

10:30am- 2:30pm
Washington, D.C. Field Trip
ArcGIS: Survey 123 Data Collection

Educators toured around Washington, D.C. to find examples of climate change solutions as part of the city’s climate action plan. They put a point on the map and took a photo of each example they found.

Educators recorded descriptions of each climate change solution, and these words stood out as the most popular from over 70 sites they found.


K12 ArcGIS Bundle: Start here if your school needs an account.
Zinn Education Project
Xiuhtezcatl Martinez
Merchants of Doubt by Naomi Oreskes
A Global Warming Primer by Jeffrey Bennett
New Orleans is Sinking by The Tragically Hip
The Global Read Aloud
City of Ember series