New toolkit launched to help children deal with climate change uncertainty
By: Alice Ingall
Last updated: Wednesday, 2 August 2023
A team of researchers at the University of Sussex have today (Wednesday 12 July) published a free toolkit for teachers to educate and help school pupils to manage uncertainty in modern life, with a particular focus on climate change.
The toolkit, called ‘Creating with Uncertainty: Sustainability education resources for a changing world’, includes teaching resources, activities and films for teachers at both primary and secondary schools.
The toolkit, which can be accessed here via the University’s Open Access publishing platform, will support students in becoming comfortable with issues that are uncertain or ambiguous and toengage them philosophically and practically to work towards a more sustainable world.
Alongside the written education pack, the project team has also released seven accompanying films featuring school workshops and interviews with academics, teachers and students to help teachers consider how to teach the topic.
Dr Perpetua Kirby, Lecturer in Childhood and Youth from the University of Sussex Centre for Innovation and Research in Childhood and Youth and the Sussex Sustainability Research Programme explains:
“The resources encourage a deep attention to difficult issues, in which students and teachers are invited to be uncertain together. This is where the answer is not known in advance, so that they can together work out where they might stand on an issue. The activities ask key questions about what we see, think, feel and imagine, in order to work out what it is we might do.”
The toolkit brings together expertise from sustainability researchers and educators from various disciplines across the University and local community. Itbuilds on research and fieldwork over the past 10 years, funded and supported by the Higher Education Innovation Fund (HEIF), Sussex Sustainability Research Programme (SSRP) and ‘Pastoralism, Uncertainty and Resilience’ (PASTRES) group. This included ‘uncertainty’ workshops held with local schools across Sussex in 2022 and previous work in both formal and informal education organisations in the Global North and South.
Dr Rebecca Webb, Senior Lecturer in Early Years and Primary Education from the University of Sussex Centre for Innovation and Research in Childhood and Youth and the Sussex Sustainability Research Programme adds:
“Creatively experimenting with uncertainty can be a good way to mitigate feelings of hopelessness, disengagement or even apathy, including the increasing phenomenon of eco-anxiety amongst young people.
“We hope the resources will help give children the skills to face complex social challenges as they grow up, without feeling overwhelmed or paralysed.”
This launch of the toolkit comes on the same day as the two research centres behind the resource – the University of Sussex Centre of Innovation and Research in Childhood and Youth and the Sussex Sustainability Research Programme – are announced as two of the new University of Sussex Centres of Excellence.
The 12 Centres of Excellence have been selected by the University as exemplars of best practice, in many cases world-leading research, that address areas of global importance.Each Centre will conduct highly innovative and potentially transformative research that will drive progress and make an important contribution to the planet and its people.