Blog post by Lauren Hennessy, Research Associate on the Climate Change Education Research Network
Since the launch of the Climate Change Education Research Network (CCERN) in November 2020, numerous new research projects and initiatives have been developed at the University of Bristol’s School of Education. Some have come out of CCERN’s work, others exist quite separately. This blog post highlights just a small selection of those initiatives.
Climate Workshop for Bristol Education Partnership (BEP) schools
This all-day workshop entitled “ Developing an evidence-based school approach to climate change education” was funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and hosted at Redmaids’ High School. The workshop was organised through a collaboration between the School of Education and the Bristol Education Partnership, for BEP partner schools. This was a small-scale pilot to establish how a workshop like this could function, with the potential for scaling up and offering to more local schools in future.
This project is led by Dr Nicola Warren Lee with the support of Lauren Hennessy. Another related project is the ‘Climate Science into Classrooms’ project which as funded by the Cabot Institute – more info on that will soon be available on the CCERN website.
Teaching Maths for Climate Justice
This Brigstow funded project explores how creative approaches to professional development can support Maths teachers to bring issues of climate justice into their practice. The research team and the participants meet for a series of three full-day workshops, with participants trialling ideas in between. In the first workshop, teachers explored notions of climate justice and imagine possible futures through a speculative writing exercise. They then created an art installation exploring the possible impacts of rises in sea level on Bristol and the surrounding area (see photos).
The second workshop involved a tour of the Botanical Gardens and a mathematical game involving ecosystems. Participants were then guided in an activity to map out their pathways to achieve their goals. On 8th July the group will meet again and participants will lead us in some activities they have developed for use in their classrooms.
Throughout the project, data has been captured in the form of interviews as well as video recordings of the workshops as well as photographs and artefacts created during the sessions. The findings will be reported at the end of the project on the Brigstow website.
The research team: Tracy Helliwell (School of Education), Lauren Hennessy (School of Education), Emma Geen (Department of English) and Emilia Alvarez (School of Mathematics), Klara Sroka (National Museum, Wales) and Tllly Walker Wood (Post-graduate researcher).
Participants: nine local teachers of Mathematics.
Interdisciplinary PGCE Climate Workshop
PGCE (Teacher Training) students from multiple subject specialisms (including Science, English, RE, History and Geography) came together for a full day of climate-related talks and activities on Friday 6th May 2022. The day began with an overview of academic research into Climate Change Education, to give the student teacher a basis for the work. We then heard from two organisations – Living-Language-Land and Heart of BS13 – about their work related to climate. Living-Language-Land is a journey through endangered and minority languages that reveal different ways of relating to land and nature. This workshop got student teachers thinking differently and valuing the importance of different perspectives and voices in the climate conversation. Heart of BS13 is a community organisation to improve health, wellbeing and opportunities for BS13 residents. They are part of the Community Climate Action project, which they talked about to the PGCE students and explained how such organisations could work with schools and young people.
Following on from this input, the PGCE students spent the afternoon working in interdisciplinary groups to develop an idea for a cross-curricular project to tackle issues related to climate and sustainability. They came up with a huge range of ideas, from climate camp, to tree planting, and tutor time activities, to a sustainable fashion show.
Image of morning lectures, Martha Monroe is shown on the screen from a video found here.
More images here – https://twitter.com/BristolSoE/status/1522517664178053121
The Maths PGCE cohort have also had many opportunities to engage in climate-related projects. Maths PGCE tutors have been liaising with the School of Engineering Maths on two climate related projects. Together we have created and trialled (with PGCE students) mathematics tasks using a set of air quality data from around Bristol and we know some students will be trying out the tasks with students in their schools. We have also collaborated on developing modelling tasks and currently two local schools are going to be trialling the tasks with sixth form classes. We will make the tasks available to everyone on the School of Engineering Maths website.
In a separate development, tutors have been collaborating with the Royal Meteorological Society on helping them trial classroom resources. The RMS have commissioned a set of resources which tackle climate issues from a mathematical perspective, for example, the mathematics of carbon sequestering in trees. These resources have been trialled in 3 schools and received very positive feedback. Tutors are supporting two professional journal articles about the work.
Finally, tutors each year support the PGCE Green Apple project, which encourages PGCE students to try our climate and other global challenge related tasks in their classrooms and share the results. Three professional journal articles in recent years have documented some of this work – article 1, article 2 and article 3.
The SoE has been working with cChange, an organisation based in Norway which offers knowledge, services and powerful experiential tools to help people understand the potential for transformation as a deliberate response to complex challenges.
In March 2022, a group of staff and students took part in the SoE’s Climate Justice Challenge – making pledges to change something in their lives for a full 30 days. Over the month, the group met regularly to discuss progress and receive input from the cChange course organisers. Participants also kept blogs. Some of the group intend to continue meeting to discuss how to take this work forwards.
In June, members of the TLC research centre were offered the opportunity to take part in a 2-day workshop in Transformational Leadership, led by cChange. This gave staff the opportunity to develop project plans using a framework developed by Karen O’Brien, with training and exercises to equip them with the necessary tools.
As promised, that was a quick overview of just some of the climate-related work in the SoE right now. If you would like to get in touch and share your work or discuss ideas, please email firstname.lastname@example.org