Sustainability, Vol. 12, Pages 591: Climate Change Education: Mapping the Nature of Climate Change, the Content Knowledge and Examination of Enactment in Upper Secondary Victorian Curriculum (Sustainability)
Climate change (CC) is widely accepted as the major threat of our time, posing unprecedented challenges to humanity. Yet very little is known regarding the ways in which upper-secondary curricula address the need to educate about this crisis. This study contributes to the field of CC education theoretically and empirically. From the theoretical perspective, the study contributes two CC conceptualisation frameworks: a characterisation of the nature of CC, and a mapping of the scope of CC content knowledge. The empirical contribution consists of examining CC education implementation within upper-secondary curriculum in the state of Victoria, Australia. Specifically we examined the CC conceptualisation and the scope of content present in the Victorian Certificate of Education (VCE) study designs. A total of 10 out of 94 study designs qualified for examination through referencing CC. The findings suggest that none of the study designs present a complete conceptualisation of the nature of CC. Common conceptualisations within the study designs perceive CC as a cause or an outcome, a problem of management, or of technological efficiency. CC content within the study designs is limited, and presents misconceptions, including the assumption that CC is a natural change caused by astronomical and solar systems. A cross-curriculum integration approach within the study designs is found to be ineffective. We conclude that CC presents a paradigm shift which brings about the new discipline of CC. There is a need for curricula reforms to address and incorporate CC as a coherent body of knowledge.