Who suffers first and most? Who is responsible? What are the barriers and opportunities for change? These are key questions society must address and they fall squarely in the realm of the social science classroom. Climate change means that entire societies and peoples will be upended as the result of their recent ancestors choices and behaviors. Who better to help our students understand and prepare for this upheaval than their history, sociology, political science, and philosophy instructors? These are the subjects where we address what we do when our way of life is ending, where we glean lessons from history and evaluate tales of surrender and compromise vs. resistance and violence. They are the subjects that provide the tools for working within and outside of governmental systems for change.
They are also the setting in which we wrestle with the moral and ethical underpinnings of our actions and ask critical questions about humanity’s relationship to nature and “whether our religious heritage, centered on human beings and the divine, keep[s] us from fully apprehending our peril”. Or, what does it mean to be stewards of the Earth?
How do humans respond to long-term threats? How do we engage in challenging issues? What is the psychology of ideology and identity and how does this influence how we approach wicked problems? Here the psychology classroom can play a critical role. And how do we cope with the reality we face? What can we do for self-care?
Below are ideas for places to insert lessons into your classrooms and descriptions of how your colleagues are already doing so.
Sociology, History, and Political Science
- IPCC. 2014. “Climate Change 2014: Synthesis Report. Contribution of Working Groups I, II, and III to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [Core Writing Team, R.K. Pachauri Adn L.A. Meyer (Eds).].” Geneva, Switzerland. ↵
- Fretz, Eric J., ed. 2016. Climate Change across the Curriculum. Lanham, Maryland: Lexington Books. ↵
- McKibben, Bill in Foreword to Fretz, Eric J., ed. 2016. Climate Change across the Curriculum. Lanham, Maryland: Lexington Books. ↵