New York, NY: Scientists and the international community agree that climate change is the defining issue of our time. The education sector, K-12 schools, higher and post-secondary institutions, and informal sites where learning happens can play an important role in our collective effort to address climate change, including mitigation, adaptation, and engaging and empowering a new generation of students. A new report from Professor Oren Pizmony - Levy of Teachers College, Columbia University, and Director of the Center for Sustainable Futures and his co-authors Professors Pamela Ann Koch and Ann E. Rivet, found that 80% of Americans say it is important that elementary and secondary school students learn about climate change, showing momentum that Americans are willing to educate students about the threat to our planet.

"Education plays a crucial role in shaping the future of our planet. The findings from this study found that a majority of the country wants to incorporate climate change education into the curriculum to empower students with the knowledge and skills they need to navigate the complex challenges of the 21st century," says Professor Oren Pizmony. "By educating our students about climate change and equipping them with the tools they need to become agents of change, we can pave the way for a more sustainable future and ensure that we leave the planet in a better place for future generations."

This is the first time public views toward comprehensive climate change education were measured; and while a majority of Americans support the implementation of comprehensive climate change education the study also found that support varies across topics. A strong majority agree that schools should teach how to identify false and misleading information about climate change and that schools should teach about the causes, consequences, and potential solutions to climate change. However, there is relatively less support for content that offers a more critical perspective on climate change. Additionally, the study found that a majority of Americans also support changes in school facilities and operations, for example installing solar panels and sourcing food locally. This could have a significant impact on reducing gas emissions and providing children with hands-on experience and engagement with climate solutions. This is crucial for addressing climate anxiety. 

This summer, The Center for Sustainable Futures at Teachers College, Columbia University, is turning these findings into action. In partnership with the NYC Public Schools Office of Sustainability, they will launch the 2023 Summer Institute dedicated to climate education and empowering the next generation with the education they need for a sustainable future. The 2023 Summer Institute will be bringing in a cohort of K-5 teachers. The cohort will participate in four full days of professional learning as part of the Learning the Earth with Artificial Intelligence and Physics (LEAP), an NSF Science and Technology Center at Columbia University. The institute’s goal is to bring together faculty, doctoral students, expert teachers, and DOE leaders to create a learning community to explore, make sense of, and provide tangible support for incorporating climate change across different subjects.

For more information on the partnership with NYC Public Schools please visit the website HERE.

For information on the survey conducted please visit the website HERE.




About Teachers College

Founded in 1887, Teachers College, Columbia University, the first and largest graduate school of education in the United States, is perennially ranked among the nation’s best. Teachers College has a long history of involvement in education around the world. Teachers College’s mission is to create a smarter, healthier, and more equitable and peaceful world. Teachers College engages in research and prepares professionals in its three main areas of expertise—education, health and psychology—to work with public and private entities in local, national and global communities and inform public policy. Students choose from nearly 150 academic programs to earn graduate degrees, which are conferred by Columbia University. While it is closely affiliated with Columbia University and collaborates with it on many programs, the College is an independent, autonomous institution with a separate, independent governing board, president, and financial endowment.

About Center for Sustainable Futures

The Center for Sustainable Futures explores new ways to transform education through original research and the exchange of ideas to empower all people to solve global and local environmental challenges. The Center collaborates with community-based organizations, local governments, international organizations, and other academic institutions on enhancing high quality environmental and sustainability education. To learn more about the Center for Sustainable Futures: