First, there were only fire drills. But as new threats emerged and gripped the United States, like the Cold War and gun violence, schools were forced to integrate new practical trainings to ensure that students could respond in the midst of a crisis. Now, as severe climate events throughout the globe become more frequent and intense, it is time for school leaders to prepare students for the potentially life-threatening effects of climate change, write TC doctoral student Josh DeVincenzo and co-author David Mazzuca in The Hill.

Josh DiVincenzo, Adult Learning & Leadership doctoral student; Project Coordinator/ Instructional Designer at the National Center for Disaster Preparedness (Photo: TC Archives)


“Just as fire drills and earthquake drills reinforce the importance of individual decision-making and the implications such decisions have on collective coordination, disaster preparedness needs to be taught with a similar, tangible level of understanding,” writes DeVincenzo, who is in the College’s Adult Learning & Leadership program, and serves as a project coordinator and instructional designer at the National Center for Disaster Preparedness (NCDP), based at Columbia University’s Earth Institute. “Teaching the science behind why we have more extreme heat or more intense droughts is not enough. It is vital to understand the human element and the interconnectedness in preparing for disasters.”

Climate disaster curriculum, DeVincenzo and his NCDP colleague outline, could consist of preparing students and their families to have “go bags” in case of emergencies; how to recognize the signs of heat exhaustion; and providing instruction on how to avoid flooded roadways.

“The more such measures can be integrated into K-12 education as common practice, the larger its impact,” writes DeVincenzo, who is also a member of the Doctoral Student Network at TC’s Center for Sustainable Futures.

Read DeVincenzo and Mazzuca’s full op-ed in The Hill.

Learn more about the work of TC’s Center for Sustainable Futures.