Looking globally: the future of education
Looking globally: the future of education

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2 What evidence is there about environmental issues?

There is some debate, mainly within political and business communities, about the nature, extent and causes of these environmental issues. An example of this relates to carbon emission-related climate change. While the majority of scientists and experts believe that the weight of evidence points to a human-generated increase in carbon emissions which is increasing global air and sea temperatures, this is not universally accepted. Different people hold different views on what counts as reliable evidence, which can be influenced by differing world-views. Positions of power can be held by people with strongly held views and this can have implications for political and policy decision-making. We consider, if this is the world we live in, what kind of education does the next generation need?

Activity 2 Who decides?

Timing: Allow approximately 45 minutes.

This activity focuses on the complex issue of climate change by addressing the question: What evidence is available on environmental issues?

  1. Watch the UK physicist Brian Cox and Australian senator Malcolm Roberts discuss climate change in this short (under two minutes) BBC News video Climate Change: Professor Brian Cox clashes with sceptic Malcolm Roberts.

Download this video clip.Video player: ee830_2017j_vwr005-640x360.mp4
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  1. Spend 10 minutes skim reading the article from the New York Times Trump Picks Scott Pruitt, Climate Change Denialist, to Lead E.P.A [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] , which highlights the changing attitudes to climate change within the United States' Trump administration (Davenport and Lipton, 2016).
  2. Think about:
    • What skills and knowledge will citizens need to enable them to decide whether to agree with climate change supporters, sceptics or deniers?
    • What implications does the debate about scientific evidence (not just about climate change but about evidence related to a wide range of environmental issues such as those highlighted in the previous activity) have for educating the next generation?
    • Although this course is focused on the education of children and young people, what are the implications for our own education as adults (as parents, teachers and peer citizens)? Sustainable Development Goal 4 (introduced in Week 1) asks us to consider education as lifelong learning.

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