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.

 

View the Polling Report          View the Focus Groups and Narratives report

 

We polled 500 Alberta youth in 2020. Here is what we found:

 

View the Polling Report

 

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.

 

View the Focus Groups and Narratives report

 

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

Register for the Event

 

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 

 

For more information, please contact Maria[at]abcee.org

 

Thank you to the following for supporting this work:

 

       

 

“Climate change can be intimidating and overwhelming – but we believe the antidote to despair is action.” 

- Stephanie Zawaduk, Queen Elizabeth High School, Edmonton