Mainstreaming Climate Change Education in UK Higher Education Institutions

Harriet Thew, Catherine Graves, Dave Reay, Shona Smith, Katrine Petersen, Elizabeth Bomberg, Simon Boxley, Jake Causley, Alina Congreve , Iain Cross, Rachel Dunk, Lynda Dunlop, Keri Facer, Kelum A.A. Gamage, Christine Greenhalgh, Alison q Greig, Lorna Kiamba, Vitalia Kinakh, Vasiliki Kioupi, Rita KlapperEsra Kurul, Michael Lee, Joanna Marshall-Cook, Alexis McGivern, Jane Mork, Vincent Nijman, Jennifer O'Brien, Chris Preist, Elizabeth Price, Mina Samangooei, Franziska Schrodt, Maria Sharmina, Jaime Toney, Conor Walsh, Tristram Walsh, Ruth Wood, Peter Wood, Nicholas Worsfold

Research output: Working paper


Key messages
• Mainstreaming Climate Change Education (CCE) across all learning and operational activities enables Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) to better serve their core purpose of preparing learners for their roles in work and wider society, now and in the future.
• Student and employer demand for climate change education is growing, not just in specialist subjects but across all degree pathways.
• The attitudes, mindsets, values and behaviours that graduates need to engage with climate change include the ability to deal with complexity, work collaboratively across sectors and disciplines and address challenging ethical questions.
• The complexity of the climate crisis means all disciplines have a role to play in delivering education for the net-zero transition. Embedding interdisciplinarity is crucial to ensuring that our response to climate change makes use of all of the expertise HEIs have to offer and promotes knowledge exchange and integration for students and staff.
• Student-centered CCE, including peer-to-peer learning, is a powerful tool for facilitating an inclusive and empowering learning experience, and developing graduates as change agents for the climate and ecological crisis.
• HEIs should develop learning outcomes for CCE that include understanding the scale, urgency, causes, consequences and solutions of climate change; how social norms and practices are driving
the climate crisis; and the ability to identify routes to direct involvement in solutions via every discipline.
• Pedagogical approaches to teaching CCE should enable learners to engage with, and respond to, climate change as a “real-world” problem, such as through experiential learning.
• Further recommendations for the HEI sector include developing a strategy for aligning CCE teaching provision with governance structures; partnering with industry, government and third sector organisations to enable context-specific CCE; and working with trade unions and accreditation bodies to enable curriculum reform.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherCOP26 Universities Network
Publication statusPublished - 14 Oct 2021


  • Climate Change
  • Education
  • education for sustainable development
  • Higher Education


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