New course plans holistic approach to teaching climate change



The new “Climate Science and Social Change” course will combine both the social justice and science aspects of climate change.

One of the most currently relevant issues is climate change. While classes have previously addressed this issue scientifically, they have neglected the other half of the story.

The new course “Climate Science and Social Change” is a unique approach to the ever-more relevant topic of climate change. If approved by the Innovation Fund, it will merge science with social, political and economic perspectives. Roger Grande, who proposed the course alongside Briana Brown, believes that students will be more empowered to respond to these climate threats with the experience they will receive in this course.

According to Grande, Climate Science and Social Change will spend the first semester of the year discussing the fundamentals of climate science. Students will study how the earth is changing and why these shifts are taking place. Grande also said the second half of the course will look at climate change from a social perspective. For example, students will look at case studies and think about innovative ways to address the impacts of our changing climate.

Grande explained that Climate Science and Social Change will spend time focusing on how the climate crisis is being addressed in the media.

“The course would look at how people discuss climate change, truth, objectivity, news and newsmakers,” Grande said. “We’re really focusing on information literacy, arming students with some of the skills needed to decipher the things they’re hearing and to understand what is true and what is not.”

This new course will also have students think about innovative ways to approach climate change. By looking at case studies, students will be able to examine the effect climate change has on various groups of people.

“We will look at a lot of issues around racial equity, class equity and just equity around the world. Who suffers the most? Who will suffer the most? Who will be most impacted, in contrast to who are the largest consumers of fossil fuels?” Grande said.

Brown, who (pending funding) will teach this class side by side withGrande, said it is important to learn the societal impacts of climate change as well as the impacts it will have on the environment.

“I think it’s important to really emphasize that this is not just a science problem. This is an everything problem and every aspect of society is going to be impacted by climate change: food production, where people can live, migration issues, etc. You can’t look at science in isolation,” Brown said.

Without enough institutional support surrounding our ecological crisis, Grande looks at Climate Science and Social Change as a fundamental step in preparing students to apply what they learn in his class to their lives outside of BHS.

“I’m a little bit stunned that there has been zero messaging from school leadership to begin getting students to think about how they’re going to thrive, financially, emotionally and socially in the future,” Grande said. “We give students skills to prepare for work, to prepare for college, but the largest existential phenomena of probably human existence is before us and we have decided to not address that.”

Students, as well as teachers, believe in the importance of learning the social effects of our current climate crisis. Junior Niovi Rahme believes that the Climate Science and Social Change course will be an effective approach to addressing this issue.

“I think learning about the social and societal aspect of climate change makes it completely different from any science classes we have,” Rahme said. “It makes it easier to know what’s truly going on in our world today and to prepare us for the future of fighting a climate battle.”

Junior Kira Wu-Hacohen first heard about the Climate Science and Social Change course when Grande pitched it to her social justice class. She hopes to take advantage of this educational opportunity next year.

“Right now I don’t really know what I can do and what difference it will make. Climate change is something that affects everyone in this school and everyone on this planet. We have to learn the consequences of our actions,” Wu-Hacohen said.

According to Brown, the impacts of climate change will accelerate in the coming decades. By studying climate change from new perspectives, students will come out of the class with a well-rounded understanding of the world they will live in and how they can change it.

“I hope to leave this class with a new, reformed understanding of climate change, how it is affecting different people and cultures around the globe and what we can do to help,” Rahme said. “It’s important to be educated about this because it’s something we will have to deal with our entire lives, so we might as well be knowledgeable about it and understand what’s truly going on.”