The climate crisis threatens our students’ lives. And yet, throughout the United States, schools have failed to put the climate at the center of the curriculum.
To address this gulf between the climate emergency and schools’ inadequate response, the Zinn Education Project has launched a campaign to “Teach Climate Justice.” How do we teach the climate crisis in a way that also confronts racism, economic inequality, misogyny, militarism, xenophobia, and that imagines the kind of world that we would like to live in?
We offer classroom-tested lessons, workshops for educators, and a sample school board climate justice resolution.
Please use these lessons and additional recommended materials, send us your teaching stories, and spread the word on social media (#TeachClimateJustice). The climate crisis is not going away. That means that teaching for climate justice is work we all need to do. Join us.
By Bill Bigelow
For too long, the fossil fuel industry has tried to buy teachers’ and students’ silence. But teaching climate justice has never been more urgent. Read more.
We offer 18 classroom-tested lessons for elementary through high school. These lessons can be used in social studies, language arts, science, and other subjects.
Many of the lessons come from A People’s Curriculum for the Earth: Teaching Climate Change and the Environmental Crisis, a teaching guide published by Rethinking Schools.
Additional Teaching Resources
There are few lessons that I enjoy teaching more than ‘Don’t Take Our Voices Away’: A Role Play on the Indigenous Peoples’ Global Summit on Climate Change in my science classroom. In part, because it gives tangible details and a human face to the issue, not just a story of polar bears or talk about temperature. This is missing in a lot of the science curriculum we are provided. Likewise, the voice of indigenous people in the world is something quite absent in our westernized science curriculum, which is maybe not surprising because these voices are also being left out of world decisions. Those points are what drew me to teaching the lesson. I keep teaching it because of how my students respond. They enjoy the structure of the activity, that they have some agency and control in what happens, as they get to take on the roles and make proposals.
Share Your Story
Stories from the classroom can inform and inspire more teachers to use lessons on climate justice. We invite you to share your story. Selected responses will be posted at the Zinn Education Project website.
We will send you a free book in appreciation for your teaching story
about any of the climate justice lessons.
School District Resolution
As a result of grassroots organizing, the Portland, Oregon, school board passed a sweeping “climate justice” resolution that commits the school district to “abandon the use of any adopted text material that is found to express doubt about the severity of the climate crisis or its roots in human activity.” The resolution further commits the school district to develop a plan to “address climate change and climate justice in all Portland Public Schools.”
Here is how they did it. Let us know if you get a similar resolution passed. We’d love to feature more success stories on this page.
The Zinn Education Project team is available to offer workshops for schools, teacher unions, pre- and in-service courses, and other settings with classroom teachers.
The facilitators engage participants in a hands-on introduction to the climate justice lessons. We are most interested in sessions with teachers who are committed to playing an active role in promoting climate justice education in their school district. An honorarium and travel expenses are required.
There are many opportunities for young people to engage in climate justice actions beyond the classroom. Learn more.
The Teach Climate Justice campaign is made possible by support from individuals like you. Please donate today so that more teachers receive free lessons, books, and workshops to support Climate Justice teaching in their classrooms. The future depends on your support. Donate now!