Education, Educational Research

Combatting our Climate Crisis: Education and Environmental Justice

A Special Issue of the SoJo Journal: Educational Foundations and Social Justice

Guest Editor: Kevin Smith, Cardiff University


Fridays For Future - Student Climate Strikes London England UK
Photo: Phillip McMaster – https://www.flickr.com/photos/dragonpreneur/

The SoJo Journal: Educational Foundations and Social Justice is interested in research studies which include conceptual, theoretical, philosophical and policy analysis essays challenging the existing state of affairs in society, schools and (in)formal education.  

For the past three decades, scientists, environmentalists, and activists have warned of the devastating effects of climate change. Now, 30 years later, we have stumbled from change into crisis as the effects of human activity take their toll on Earth, its climate, and inhabitants. An increase in carbon emissions has contributed to the continuous warming of our planet, with the World Meteorological Organization stating 20 of the warmest years on record have occurred in the last 22. In fact, in the past three years alone, global carbon emissions rose from 1.7 to 2.7 percent between 2017 and 2018, with indicators suggesting an additional 1.5 percent increase in 2019.   

The elevations in global temperatures, shrinking of polar ice, rising of sea levels, and extreme loss of insect and animal life has illustrated the severity of our climate crisis. The Met Office in London has reported that climate action must be increased by 500 percent if we are to reduce carbon emissions alone, but this is only part of the battle. Other efforts are also needed to restore habitats, eliminate deadly pesticides and chemicals, and to end our addiction to fossil fuels.  

Over the past few years, young people across the world have responded to the calls for climate action, with Greta Thunberg being the most provocative and popular figure. Yet, other activists, particularly those from the global south such as Vanessa Nakate, from Uganda, continue to campaign for meaningful climate action without the celebrity or import experienced by Thunberg. 

Inhabitants of countries throughout the global south have been concerned with our climate crisis for decades. For example, many Pacific island nations have incorporated indigenous knowledge and wisdom of their local environments into their national curricula, and community engagement and organisation efforts focused on the climate crisis have, over the years, led to the creation of activist groups such as the Pacific Climate Warriors, who continue to lead efforts across the Pacific in battling climate change. Brazil, India and many African nations also provide keen examples of positive leadership and activism in the face of our climate crisis. However, although activists and educators in the global south have made, real meaningful impact in their local and regional contexts, the global north has largely failed to acknowledge and engage with them in combating our climate crisis.   

Indeed, while the 2015 Paris Agreement set out important steps to address our environmental crisis, political leaders in the global north, such as US President Donald Trump, continue to falter over decisions and action needed to create positive, climate action. Moreover, the global north is not only lacking in responses to limit the impact of human activity on Earth’s environment, and in acknowledging the wisdom of the global south, it also fails to recognize and respond to the will of young people as they exercise their rights fighting for change.  

More than 4 million people on all seven continents, with many of those being of school age, participated in the School Climate Strikes of 2019. While these events were broadly celebrated, they were also met with resistance from politicians, policy makers and school leaders in many countries, and in particular, the United States and United Kingdom. Although the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child mandate that schools not only acknowledge, but also facilitate, the expression of children’s rights (including the right to protest), many young people were denied that right as their decision to engage in peaceful, civil disruption was confronted by resistance to the climate crisis and their right to protest.   

In this special edition of the SoJo Journal, we call for papers from authors in the global south and north that investigate the relationships, tensions, and contradictions associated with education, schooling, curriculum, knowledge, wisdom, ecology, environment, activism, rights, youth, youth work, equality, equity, and the goals of social and environmental justice. 

Examples of Potential Topics Addressed in this Issue:

  • Teacher education and the climate crisis
  • The climate crisis and rights of the child
  • Curriculum and our climate crisis
  • The climate crisis and indigenous knowledge, wisdom & action
  • Tensions between the global South, North and our planet in the balance
  • Education for environmental and/or ecological justice
  • Teaching for post-human and/or more-than-human justice
  • School strikes, youth activism and the climate crisis
  • Imagining renewal: What might the future of Earth look like and how might we get there?

Timeline

An early expression of interest and a 500-word abstract is required by 1st December, 2020. Manuscripts (20-30 pages double-spaced) are due 20th of February, 2021. An expectation for publication is 30th April, 2021. Please address correspondence and submissions to Dr. Kevin Smith at Cardiff University (smithk26@cardiff.ac.uk). Please include SoJo Special Issue in the Subject Line.

Dates at a Glance

  • 1st December, 2020: 500 word abstract due to Special Issue Editor (smithk26@cardiff.ac.uk, please include SoJo Special Issue in the Subject Line)
  • 1st January, 2021: Authors receive notification their abstract was accepted and are invited to submit a full manuscript
  • 20th February, 2021: Manuscripts due
  • 15th March, 2021: Review Process
  • 15th April, 2021: Revised drafts due to Special Issue Editor