VU climate change educator brings expertise to Israeli classrooms

Associate Professor Efrat Eilam of Victoria University has identified gaps about how and what is being taught in schools regarding climate change.
Wednesday 8 March 2023

A Victoria University (VU) researcher has shared her expertise and knowledge with the Israeli Ministry of Education to develop an effective climate change school curriculum.

VU climate change education expert, Associate Professor Efrat Eilam was invited to be part of a large international multidisciplinary team to develop a mandatory Foundation to Year 12 climate change curriculum, now being rolled out in schools across Israel. 

Based on a systematic literature review and analysis of how and what is being taught about climate change in schools in Canada, USA, Finland, Indonesia, Germany, Australia and other countries, Associate Professor Eilam was able to identify gaps and deliver recommendations for effective curriculum in Israel.

“Ministries of education across the globe are now facing a new and unique educational challenge. They are called upon to teach about an imminent calamity, which is and will affect students throughout their lives, while at the same time, support students’ growth to become thriving and resilient adults,” she said.

“This unprecedented challenge raises the need to develop a curriculum informed by resilience-building teaching.”

Associate Professor Eilam developed a Green Paper advising the Ministry on:

  • thematic organisation of climate change curriculum
  • mapping key concepts
  • capacities and values
  • developing learning progression informed by emotional and cognitive student development, student prior knowledge
  • content and pedagogy informed by climate anxiety, apathy and depression.

Some of her key recommendations included using consistent terminology regarding climate change; developing non-linear thematic curricular organisation; and developing a disaster risk reduction program.

“My analysis of existing climate change curricula revealed two characterising aspects. The first is that most curricula focus on the scientific themes of climate change, neglecting critical issues concerning economic-governance-social-ethical themes,” she said.

“Another important finding was that most curricula tend to present climate change through a linear-cause-effect framework which identifies the causes of climate change, climate change processes, and climate change effects and impacts.

“This approach is overly simplistic and reductionist. There are many complex and parallel narratives acting through multiple pathways in complex systems that need to be represented in the curriculum.” 

The Israeli Ministry of Education began rolling out Associate Professor Eilam’s recommended curriculum framework from September 2022.

While the VU researcher still assists the Israeli Government, she is keen to share the expertise and knowledge she has gained closer to home.

“Students are in their formative years as they experience climate change. I am very passionate about my work, and it is our responsibility as adults to provide students with the best tools and information to allow them to understand the reasons for and impacts of climate change.” 

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