University of California, San Diego

Bending the Curve: Climate Solutions Education for All

Lead Organization

University of California, San Diego

La Jolla, California, United States

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To learn more about – or provide significant funding to – this project, please contact Lever for Change.

Project Summary

Climate disruption is a grave threat to public health and is the existential crisis of our time. Education is the best tool for transforming society. We propose empowering one million Climate Warriors, a generation of scientifically-minded and civically-engaged people, through education to overcome climate inaction.Vulnerable populations are least responsible, yet at greatest risk. Climate Justice demands a global effort to garner public support. California is a global leader in climate action. We will lead a hemispheric cultural shift by partnering with Mexico to adapt and massively scale California’s peer-reviewed, field-tested education protocol, Bending the Curve: Climate Change Solutions. Its innovative tools include in-person, digital, and experiential learning and MOOC certification.With rich partnerships, Bending the Curve will be scaled across California, Mexico, and beyond to fast-track climate solutions. As a gesture of urgent binational cooperation, and climate justice, we include migrant-dense communities at the US-Mexico border.

Problem Statement

Climate disruption is not only a political issue but a grave public health threat. During the last 20 years, more than 600,000 people have died from extreme weather events. Dangerous climate change is upon us. In 30 years 40% of the global population, rich and poor, will be exposed to catastrophic heat waves, droughts, fires, storms, floods, and vector- and water-borne diseases. The poorest three billion can face existential threat. Before century’s end, 80% of the population will be exposed to deadly heat waves.The climate crisis is a global humanitarian crisis; it will intensify and complicate forced migration and all the other critical problems the world faces. It is a huge intra-generational and an inter-generational justice issue affecting over 3 billion of today's poor and generations unborn. Climate change has become entangled with political and corporate agendas that obfuscate the crisis. The problem is accelerating not because we lack technical solutions but because we lack public commitment for urgent action. We need to change our culture; there is no other way. Education that empowers, for a whole generation, is our most important tool for changing hearts and minds.This is not just any education. We must avoid passive learning that paralyzes and disempowers, making climate crisis seem too massive, too far away in space and time, or someone else’s problem. Climate education must include integral, inquiry-based, community-rooted strategies that invest both young and adult learners in the challenge, cultivate empathy, and instigate a sense of agency and generational purpose.

Solution Overview

We will lead hemispheric change by adapting and scaling California’s field-tested climate solutions education protocol, Bending the Curve across California and Mexico, with the goal of empowering one million Climate Warriors. Bending the Curve presents climate disruption as a complex but solvable problem requiring solutions that integrate science, technology, ethics, policy, governance, finance, ecosystem management, and societal transformation. Students become active learners, challenged to apply their knowledge through community-based experiential learning laboratories and online dashboards. Our team's experience in engaged learning methods will empower students to feel they can do something about it.We will adapt Bending the Curve into a scalable set of integral educational tools, distributed along three tracks: K-12: Robust teacher training, digital platforms, certification programs, design competitions and seed grants will enable teachers to access the tools and integrate them. College: We will engage at least 100 campuses across California and Mexico, to integrate digital and campus-based courses on Climate Change Solutions, Adaptation and Global Health. Adult: We will create a channel on UC-TV (100 million hits) to provide credible information on climate change, a MOOC certification for career workers, and immersive summer programs for adults. We'll disseminate by forming alliances with faith-based organizations and partner with museums to change hearts and minds through arts and culture. We will scale to the world in phase-3 through interactive digital platforms, and consultative Climate Education Summits – for the US, the Americas, and culminating with a high-profile World Climate Education Summit at the Vatican through the Pontifical Academy.

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Project Funders

  • Gates Foundation 2017 - 2019
  • Andrew W. Mellon Foundation 2016 - 2020
  • ArtPlace America 2017 - 2019

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