How to teach climate change?

Laura Riuttanen
Institute for Atmospheric and Earth System Research
University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland

Although climate change is a wicked problem, teaching climate change is a challenge at another level. Multidisciplinary learning challenges the traditional disciplinary education structures in schools and higher education, as well as society, where climate expertise is urgently needed in all sectors. For example, Finland has an ambitious goal of being carbon neutral by 2035. To reach that goal, rapid changes are needed across different facets of society from policies to businesses and from industries to infrastructure. All sectors need to learn new ways of doing things while applying the newest constantly updating scientific knowledge on climate change. How can we as scientists and educators be bridging the knowledge-action gap, and advance systemic change towards more sustainable futures?

We have studied what kind of competencies (knowledge, skills, attitudes) are needed for climate change mitigation and adaptation actions. Based on our findings and long-term experience in climate education, we have developed several initiatives of climate education that aim at increasing climate expertise across different sectors and regions in Finland, and internationally. Climate University is a network of 28 Higher Education Institutions in Finland, with an aim to educate active sustainability makers for the society and business. Together we have developed 12 multidisciplinary online courses, and Virtual Exchanges as well as a new Specialisation Programme in Climate Expertise are about to begin in 2024.

With 15 year of teaching climate change, I will share some experiences and insights I have learned along my personal endeavour from physics student to a global changemaker.