Mapping the Landscape of K–12 Climate Change Education in the United States

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Mapping the Landscape of K–12 Climate Change Education Policy in the United States

NAAEE and Monitoring and Evaluating Climate Communication and Education Project (MECCE) are excited to release the findings of a comprehensive analysis of K–12 Climate Change Education Policy in the United States.

Executive Summary

This study explored the status of climate change education policy in the United States by analyzing the extent and type of climate change inclusion in 802 publicly available education policies from state departments or boards of education. Using a whole institution approach, researchers collected and reviewed policies from each of four domains: (1) institutional governance (e.g., strategic plans), (2) teaching and learning (e.g., state standards), (3) facilities and operations (e.g., operations plans), and (4) community partnerships (e.g., community engagement plans). This study also evaluated how holistic the approach to climate change education was by looking at inclusion of three learning dimensions: 1) cognitive (e.g., teaching the science of the greenhouse effect), (2) socio-emotional (e.g., addressing social and emotional issues such as grief and denial), and (3) action-oriented (e.g., focusing on collective justice-oriented climate action).

The study builds on prior climate change education research and underscores the importance of including climate change in education policy in all areas of institutional activity to further climate change action through education.

In short, the key findings led to the five recommendations:

  • Increase the quality and quantity of climate change content across all education policies, including addressing all institutional domains and holistic learning dimensions and in all subjects. 
  • Update and increase the number of statewide environmental literacy plans.
  • Include a stronger focus on climate justice, climate action, and Indigenous knowledge in all education policies.
  • Include a focus on both climate change mitigation and adaptation in all education policies.
  • Provide policy support, such as funding, professional development, and staffing to help advance enactment of climate change education policy. 

Read the full report here