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To encourage and empower young people to participate in addressing the big sustainability challenges facing the world today, teachers need to be equipped to cover topics such as climate change in their teaching. Every school subject is relevant to this, each contributing distinctively to the knowledge, skills and values needed to participate.

“There is an urgent need for education to address global crises of sustainability,” explains Dr David Mitchell (UCL Institute of Education, IOE), who is exploring ways to address the issue. “In a recent national survey, a majority of teachers said that they felt unconfident teaching about climate change, while young people place climate change and sustainability high in their priorities of their concerns for the future.”

UNESCO’s International Commission on the Futures of Education calls for rapid educational innovation to support delivery of the SDGs. To help deliver more innovative teaching and give young people access to knowledge relating to sustainable development, a team led by Dr Mitchell devised a cross-subject approach to curriculum development, using a model developed as part of the UCL-led geography education project GeoCapabilities.

GeoCapabilities provides training materials for geography teachers to apply and adapt in the classroom, allowing them to explore their role as curriculum leaders for their subject and the importance of geography as ‘powerful disciplinary knowledge’. The approach has now been piloted across 18 subjects with a cohort of students taking the IOE’s Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE). These subjects include art, music, English, the humanities, citizenship, modern foreign languages, maths, computing, the sciences and business studies.


Level of Education: Higher education

Lead Organisation: University College London

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