Southern African Journal of Environmental Education

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‘Teaching and Learning for Climate Change’ – the Role of Teacher Materials and Curriculum Design in South Africa

Coleen Vogel, Ute Schwaibold, Shanu Misser


Climate change and variability are key challenges facing the planet and humanity, particularly in South Africa. The complexity of climate as an interconnected system, including earth and socio-ecological systems and ‘deeper’ thinking, requires critical enquiry as well as reflexive and transformative education approaches. This paper provides a synoptic overview of three emerging South African cases of teacher education materials development, high school material design, and the design and implementation of a new tertiary-degree offering centred on teaching and learning for climate change. A mixed-methods approach was used in all cases, with a central focus being climate change content knowledge and examples of teaching and curriculum design opportunities that can begin a ‘transformative’ learning journey for climate change action. Educators and facilitators, in most cases, noted that the approaches used enabled a more expansive understanding of climate change content knowledge, and, in some cases, although not tested in detail, seemed to also inspire action for climate change (deeper levels of learning). The paper is predicated on enabling improved understanding of climate change as a complex ‘system’ requiring a range of responses. Probing what may be required to begin a much ‘deeper’ understanding and appreciation of the implications of climate change both now and in the future, is also examined.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution license, CC-BY-NC-SA. More information may be found at


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