Resources for Teaching COP26 Across the Curriculum

Clare Sisisky, GEBG Executive Director
November 1, 2021
Resources for Teaching COP26 Across the Curriculum

The COP26 (26th Conference of the Parties) UN Climate Change Conference, hosted by the UK in partnership with Italy, will take place from October 31st to November 12th, 2021 in Glasgow, Scotland. World leaders will come together to discuss the global impact of climate change and how nations might more effectively collaborate to address this challenge, now and in the future. As educators, we have the opportunity to bring understanding about this event into the classroom to teach not only about climate change but also about international politics, the UN SDGs, and student leadership across grade levels and disciplines.

However, while we know that we must help our students to be ready with the knowledge, skills, and dispositions to tackle this complex and interconnected problem; teaching about the impact of climate change can be challenging for a number of reasons. A 2019 NPR Study found that over half of the teachers in the United States never even mention climate change in their classes, despite the fact that 87% of teachers surveyed believe that climate change should be taught in schools and that 84% of parents surveyed agreed. Clearly, although the belief in the value of this teaching and learning is widespread, teachers still struggle to adequately develop and adapt curriculum and to navigate the varied aspects of teaching about the topic.

Additionally, we know that young people are already aware of and concerned about the multiple ways in which climate change will impact their future and that discussing the impact of climate change with students can be stressful and overwhelming for them, what The Washington Post has called “Eco-Anxiety”Researchers at the University of Bath surveyed 10,000 students across 10 countries (including the UK, US, India, and Nigeria) in September 2021 and found that climate change is causing widespread, deeply felt anxiety amongst young people. According to a recent article on the study in Medical News Today, “survey respondents feel betrayed by governments that have so far failed to do enough to address the crisis and almost half said their worries about climate change are negatively affecting their daily lives.”

These studies underscore the essential role that educators can play in equipping and empowering students to take action on climate issues at school and in their local communities, even from a young age. This work cannot be left to science teachers alone, especially as the impact of climate change and what to do about it is a global challenge beyond any one discipline. When we collectively engage in teaching and learning about climate change throughout our schools, students develop a broad base of knowledge upon which to practice and exercise their developing skills around addressing climate change in small, attainable ways. This holistic and creative effort—described in this February 2021 article from The Brookings Institute—eventually decreases our overall human impact on the environment over time and ensures that future leaders keep environmental stewardship in focus no matter their careers.

The GEBG supports schools in their efforts to bring global issues, global perspectives, and global competencies into their students’ learning for every student, every year. One important way in which we pursue this goal is to curate resources to support educators as they work to connect their curriculum with global current events and teach about pressing global issues; to incorporate multiple perspectives from around the world; and to educate for global competency, including supporting their students in taking action. The following resources may be of use to educators from a variety of disciplines and who teach at different age levels as they discuss COP26 with their students, teach about climate change, and provide these young leaders with role models from around the world who are taking action on climate issues. Since the event is taking place in the UK, there are great resources being generated in that region of the world that may not be regularly on the radar of educators outside of Western Europe; consequently, we have chosen to highlight many of these resources in our curation below.

Official COP26 Event Resources
Materials Created for Educators
Understanding Multiple Global Perspectives on Climate Impact
Supporting Student Action

Many of the resources in this article include ways to support student action. Providing students with authentic opportunities to take action can also provide teachers with methods in which to assess student learning.

Additional Collections of Resources
  • This document from Education Scotland is a collection of resources for teaching about climate issues in primary school.
  • This website contains a collection of ​​projects and resources from UK educators focused on using COP26 as a vehicle for teaching and learning about climate.
  • National Geographic has a resource page for educators on teaching climate change with activities, articles, and resources—including some great materials on mapping climate change.