Give our Students a Better Future by advancing environmental, energy and climate education
There is a gap we need to close.
We have a big problem in Alberta: our young people lack environmental and energy literacy, knowledge about climate—and hope for the future. Our students are asking for education that closes this gap and addresses this problem. Alberta students deserve to learn how to balance the complexities of stewarding nature, meeting energy demand, reducing greenhouse gases, and creating prosperity - and we're not there yet. Their teachers work hard, but tell us they lack quality resources to use in their teaching, and are limited by a curriculum that does not adequately address energy and climate.
Here’s our evidence.
We polled 500 Alberta youth in 2020. Here is what we found:
We also led focus groups with 172 Alberta students. We found that students…
- have low levels of environmental and climate literacy
- showed a poor understanding of our energy system, especially energy sources, energy production, and the relationship between fossil fuel use and climate change
- construct false and sometimes apocalyptic narratives to fill the knowledge vacuum
- experience high levels of eco-anxiety and fatalism about their future.
Our Ask of Education Leaders
Together, we can solve this problem. Alberta students deserve more environmental education, helping them prepare for the future that they will inhabit, the jobs they’ll create, and the society they’ll build. By empowering students to become active citizens, environmental education gives them hope for the future. For over a decade we have worked with opinion leaders, school board and government officials, and youth on how to solve this problem. On behalf of Alberta’s almost 750,000 K-12 students, we call upon Alberta’s education leaders to create or enhance policies and plans that give students more environmental education.
We ask the Alberta government to…
- Strengthen the Alberta curriculum by incorporating the community’s recommendations, captured in the Curriculum for a Sustainable Future
- Support and fund more relevant professional learning for practicing and pre-service teachers
- Help school boards implement more cost-saving energy efficiency and renewable energy solutions in schools – and link these to student learning
We ask the Alberta Teachers’ Association to…
- Better connect their curriculum to topics in the environment/energy/climate space
- Access quality teaching resources
- Take their students outdoors, fostering students' wellness and connection to community – and keeping them healthy during COVID-19
- Support student critical thinking around controversial issues
- Support student environmental citizenship through actions projects – giving our kids hope for the future
We ask the trustees and superintendents who govern school boards to ‘take the next step’ in their work…
- Recognize and celebrate best practices in this area by schools, teachers, and students
- Promote and enhance outdoor education, making it easier for teachers to connect students with nature
- Emphasize relevant teacher professional learning
- Implement more cost-saving energy efficiency and renewable energy solutions in schools - and link these to student learning
- Create student advisory groups to engage youth voice
Are you an Education Leader? Join our virtual forum on December 15th as we discuss a crucially important initiative: “Give our students a better future” by advancing environmental education in Alberta.
At the event we will bring you some good news to help you take the next step. We will convene education leaders to...
Review the evidence we’ve gathered
Hear from Minister of Education Adriana LaGrange
Hear some inspiring stories from classrooms, schools, and school boards
Hear from some high school youth who have studied this - and have some solutions to propose
Share your ideas on how you might ‘Take the Next Step’ to support this essential student learning
A Call to Action
We need your help! We owe it to our children to act. We ask parents and other members of the public to...
- Share this webpage with your friends and family
- Share this webpage with your MLA, including ‘our ask of government’ – then ask him/her what they will do to support this
- Share this webpage – and the ask – with your local school trustee and superintendent – then ask him/her what they will do to support this
- Sign our petition - and share it on social media (coming soon)
- Download our slide deck and use it to engage a key audience
Some encouraging developments by Education Leaders…
"BE IT RESOLVED… That the Alberta School Boards Association (ASBA) supports sustainable development... all Alberta students must be provided access to an environmental education.” (ASBA Resolution, passed in 2016)
“BE IT RESOLVED that the Association accept the scientific consensus that anthropogenic climate change is a real and critical challenge.. and supports the inclusion of curriculum that explicitly addresses issues relating to anthropogenic climate change in a manner that is subject and age appropriate.” (Resolutions 3-13 and 3-14, passed by the Alberta Teachers’ Association in 2020)
“Students will demonstrate an understanding of economic development and entrepreneurship, and will recognize the responsibility we share for environmental stewardship and sustainability.” (2020 Ministerial Order on Student Learning, Government of Alberta)
Some tools that support this work
- What should Alberta students learn about environment, energy, and climate? View recommendations from the community in our Curriculum for a Sustainable Future
- Students’ hopeful vision of the future (6.5 minute video), available on YouTube in a playlist format: Brighter Futures: Youth Visions for Environmental Education in 2030
- Recommendations by students for Alberta’s Educational Leadership: Supporting Leadership in Environmental, Energy, and Climate Education in Alberta Schools
- For teachers: How to link your Curriculum to environmental, energy, and climate education and action
- How to help students learn about climate – and take action. Our Roadmap to Excellent Climate Change Education
- The Pope’s Encyclical, Laudato Si - A simple summary that speaks in support of this work.
- A Primer for how Ministries of Education, School Divisions, and Schools can help inform and empower climate action
For more information, please contact Maria[at]abcee.org
Thank you to the following for supporting this work: