Academic journal article Journal of Geoscience Education

Internationalization of the Curriculum through Student-Led Climate Change Teaching Activity

Academic journal article Journal of Geoscience Education

Internationalization of the Curriculum through Student-Led Climate Change Teaching Activity

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION

Colleges and universities recognize the need to educate their students to be global citizens (Parker et al., 1999; Nussbaum, 2002), since many of society's most pressing issues transcend national boundaries (Falk, 1993; Parker et al., 1999; Kirkwood, 2001; Walker, 2006). Kevin Hovland, the director of global learning and curricular change at the Association of American Colleges and Universities posits that global learning should enable all students "to approach the world's challenges and opportunities from multiple perspectives and to wrestle with the ethical implications of differential power and privilege" (Hovland, 2009). As Nussbaum (2002) suggests, students should have the "ability to criticize one's own traditions"; be able to "think as a citizen of the whole world, not just some local region or group"; and be able to "imagine what it would be like to be in the position of someone very different from oneself."

Climate change is one such issue requiring students to think as global citizens, and research shows that learning to cross cultural and discipline boundaries equips students with the skills to tackle this and other complex problems in the environmental sciences (Bouwen and Taillieu, 2004; Spelt et al., 2009; Bangay and Blum, 2010; Burandt and Barth, 2010; Fortuin and Bush, 2010). Furthermore, meaningful engagement with the issue of climate change requires skills in understanding interdependencies and uncertainty in socioecological systems, and an ability to think in an "anticipatory and cross-linked way" (Burandt and Barth, 2010).

Despite the recognition of its importance, the teaching and learning of boundary-crossing skills is still in its infancy (Spelt et al., 2009). These boundary-crossing skills require students to "change perspective, to synthesize knowledge of different disciplines, and to cope with complexity" (Spelt et al., 2009), and equip graduates to respond to a rapidly changing and diverse world (Bangay and Blum, 2010). The ability to change perspectives and look at problems from different angles may not naturally develop (Fortuin and Bush, 2010) but can be facilitated through internationalization of education and exposure to cultural diversity. Internationalization of the curriculum is "the incorporation of an international and intercultural dimension into the teaching and learning processes, support services and content of a program, course or unit of study to engage students with cultural and linguistic diversity and purposefully develop their international and intercultural perspectives as professionals and citizens within a campus culture that recognizes and values cultural diversity" (Leask, 2007, p. 206). Colleges and universities are uniquely situated to provide a comparative perspective whereby graduates know enough about other nations and cultures to make sound decisions involving cross border issues (Bok, 2007).

In this paper we outline a survey and tutorial that brings together internationalization and boundary-crossing skills, allowing students from different cultures and countries to explore the vexed issue of climate change science perceptions. There is broad interest in understanding perceptions of climate change because research shows that public opinion (Leiserowitz et al., 2013; Head et al., 2014) can be quite skewed compared with the understanding of climate researchers (Doran and Zimmerman, 2009; Anderegg et al., 2010; Cook et al., 2013). USA young adults have similar beliefs to the general population that climate change is occurring and that humans are responsible (Feldman et al., 2010). Reasons for differing perceptions amongst the general public include the "creeping" nature of climate change, poor communication of the complexities and uncertainties, a lack of trust, negative portrayal of climate science in the media, and perceptions of risk (Moser and Dilling, 2004; Leiserowitz, 2005; Tollefson, 2010; Hmielowski et al., 2014). An emerging thought relevant to this study is that cultural perspectives and personal experience also shape societal attitudes towards the issue of climate change (Editorial, 2010; Kahan, 2010; Ding et al. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.