K-12 Climate Change Education in B.C.
Last updated: December 10, 2021
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Throughout B.C. and around the world, people and communities are experiencing the effects of climate change—from increasing wildfires, changes to ecosystems and loss of species, to frequent flooding, sea-level rise, longer summer droughts and heatwaves. The K–12 education system is rising to the challenge of educating students to build climate resilience in uncertainty, to mitigate the impacts of climate change through preparedness and adaptation, and to contribute to climate solutions as change-makers and leaders.
British Columbia’s redesigned curriculum offers a strong foundation for climate change education. The curriculum is concept-based and competency-driven and provides many opportunities for students and teachers to explore climate change in varying levels of detail, across learning areas and grades. For example, topics related to the environment and climate change are found in the required learning standards throughout the provincial science curriculum from Kindergarten to Grade 10. Specialized science courses such as Earth Sciences 11, Environmental Science 11, Science for Citizens 11, and Environmental Science 12 provide opportunities for students to study the environment and climate change in more detail.
The Core Competencies are central to BC’s curriculum and are sets of intellectual, personal, and social and emotional proficiencies that all students need to engage in deep, lifelong learning. One of the Core Competencies—the Personal and Social Core Competency—includes the sub-competency of Social Awareness and Responsibility. This sub-competency encourages students to develop awareness, understanding, and appreciation of connections among people, including between people and the natural environment.
Work is underway to highlight and expand existing curricular opportunities and to further support climate education in B.C.
The B.C. Climate Action Secretariat (CAS), located within the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy, is responsible for coordinating all provincial climate action across ministries. The Ministry of Education and Child Care is partnering with CAS to ensure K–12 education remains aligned with provincial climate strategies and helps educators, students, families, and communities understand climate impacts, identify actions to prepare and adapt to climate change, and build climate resilience.
Our objective is to work with our many partners to further emphasize climate change education in student learning across Grades K–12 while ensuring B.C. teachers are aware of existing opportunities within the curriculum and can access reliable, appropriate, and effective teaching and learning resources to support climate education in B.C.
In the spring of 2021, we partnered with CAS and the BC Teachers’ Federation to run two teacher focus groups. These sessions examined how BC’s curriculum currently supports climate change education, explored ways to support and enhance the curriculum, and identified opportunities for resource development. The feedback from those sessions is helping inform our future planned activities.
In June of 2021, CAS produced a pamphlet for B.C. teachers (PDF, 145 KB) highlighting many existing climate change education classroom resources and programs. In July of 2021, we launched a cross-government working group to help us identify existing government programs and resources related to climate change education, with the goal of collaborating where possible in the creation, refinement, or promotion of climate change education programs or resources.
We continue to meet with student activists, education partners, post-secondary institutions, and youth advocacy groups.
We are currently planning a number of actions to help support teachers in furthering climate change education in B.C. schools, including:
- learning more about what B.C. teachers want and need to be effective climate change educators, and
- promoting climate change in the B.C. curriculum as a holistic subject that cuts across all grades and learning areas.
We look forward to sharing more about these planned actions throughout the 2021/2022 school year.