Op-ed: A Vision for Transforming Education in Response to Climate and Ecological Crisis

By Dr. Heather Short
Originally Published March 6, 2024, Canadian Dimension


Article Overview:

In the fall of 2021, Dr. Heather Short, a climate literacy educator, resigned from her tenured teaching position at a Québec college and applied for a new position at her former college. Her motivation was the realization of the massive implications of the climate and ecological crises in higher education. 

The following is an edited version of her cover letter:

What do students need from higher education as a young human on this planet at this extraordinary time? If we base the answer to that question in scientific consensus, preparing students for their futures requires nothing short of “transformative systemic change in all aspects of society” (IPCC 2018). To put it bluntly, as climate scientist Kevin Anderson states: “There are now no non-radical futures.” If we, as adults and educators in young people’s lives are to meet their needs, we must embrace and build radical systemic change, collective action, and emotional support into higher education.

I propose three initiatives to begin this scientifically necessary transformation: 1) Mandatory climate literacy training for all employees; 2) A re-structuring of college governance to mirror the kinds of societal-level systemic change; 3) A reorganization of the curriculum to centre a deep understanding of the Earth and ecological systems that allows us to live on this planet.