Community Philosophy and the Climate Crisis

The following resources are made available to members of the global education network Community Philosophy and the Climate Crisis and to other interested parties. If you wish to join our network, please read our Ethos and Aims and then contact Michelle to be added to the Google Group.

Related organisations:

  • Community Philosophy and the Climate Crisis – global network of philosophers and educators who support critical and compassionate conversations that help people understand the complex ethical issues at play within the climate and ecological crisis, and connect their considered views with achievable action. Please contact Michelle (Co-convener, with Grace Lockrobin) with any enquiries.
  • Philosophers for Sustainability – encouraging philosophers to take leadership on climate change and environmental sustainability. USA based with global outreach.
  • Learning Rebellion – resources and coordinated strategies towards a non-violent direct education. UK based with global outreach. Read their Oct 2019 letter to the UK Department of Education.
  • Educators Declare a Climate and Biodiversity Emergency (web and facebook)

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TABLE OF CONTENTS

1) Non-classroom resources created by The Philosophy Club:

  • Blog post ‘Wake Up!’ by Michelle Sowey
  • Background information on the climate emergency
  • Facebook page: Young Environmental Philosophers

2) Classroom resources created by The Philosophy Club:

  • Children’s Assembly on climate and ecological issues in Victoria, Australia
  • High school philosophy workshop: Climate Action: Why Act Now? 
  • High school philosophy workshops: So Entitled – Human nature, human rights, legal personhood and the basis of rights
  • Upper primary/junior high school workshop: Water ethics
  • Upper primary/junior high school workshop: Nature and De-extinction
  • Primary school philosophy module: Wild and Free
  • Junior primary school philosophy workshop: Fitting In and Standing Out
  • Materials for a ‘Reflective Drawing’ art workshop on philosophical themes

3) Materials from other sources:

  • ‘Intergenerational Justice’ podcast transcript
  • Papers on the application of Citizens’ Assemblies in educational contexts
  • Climate change educational resources, training websites and programs
  • Podcast episodes
  • Civil disobedience education resources
  • Other materials of interest

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1) NON-CLASSROOM RESOURCES CREATED BY THE PHILOSOPHY CLUB

Blog post
In my blog post Wake Up! Philosophy education and the climate crisis I suggest four ways in which philosophy educators can contribute to action on the climate and ecological emergency.

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Background information on the climate emergency

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Facebook page: Young Environmental Philosophers
All welcome to join!
The page Young Environmental Philosophers – Melbourne is for young people (and their families/supporters) who are big thinkers and concerned about climate and environmental justice. On that page I share articles that dig deeper into the ideas that underlie environmental beliefs and actions. I will also be publicising occasional live workshops in Melbourne where environmentally-minded young people can think over puzzling questions together, share their ideas, examine their assumptions, weigh up different arguments, and deepen their understanding.

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2) CLASSROOM RESOURCES CREATED BY THE PHILOSOPHY CLUB

Children’s Assembly on climate and ecological issues in Victoria, Australia

Shared under a Creative Commons license: Attribution-NonCommercial.

You can download the session plan and set of eight issues for deliberation and accompanying images for a Children’s Assembly, designed for children aged 8 – 12. A facilitator supports children as they deliberate on particular environmental issues and controversies in the state of Victoria, with the possibility of the children’s responses being later documented and submitted to Parliament.

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High school philosophy workshop: Climate Action: Why Act Now? 

Original materials shared under a Creative Commons license: Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives. Other materials are owned by those credited.

You can download the 80-minute workshop plan. Accompanying resources are below:

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High school philosophy workshops: So Entitled – Human nature, human rights, legal personhood and the basis of rights

Original materials shared under a Creative Commons license: Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives. Other materials are owned by those credited.

You can download the workshop plans for ‘So Entitled’, our two-hour philosophical enquiry into rights and legal personhood. The first workshop includes a card sorting activity (as described in the workshop plan) using these printable cards and headers to identify what it is about being human that entitles us to rights. The second workshop includes a series of video clips which invite discussion of such as questions as ‘Should rights be granted on the basis of capacities or needs?’ and ‘Should rights always be accompanied by responsibilities?’ Accompanying video clips are: Chimpanzee mirror self-recognition (edited excerpts) (apologies for watermark), ‘The Corporation’ (edited excerpts), ‘The River is Me’ (edited excerpts), and ‘Animals – Property or Persons?‘ (by Voiceless Australia).

Note that we have created a different version of the above workshop to suit contexts where it is not possible to use audio-visual stimuli. It runs a little shorter, at 1.75 hours in total. You can download the A.V.-free version of the ‘So Entitled’ workshop plans. You will still need to use the printable cards and headers linked in the paragraph above.

Entitles us to rights photo

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Upper primary/junior high school workshop: Water ethics

Original materials shared under a Creative Commons license: Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives. Other materials are owned by those credited.

Note: The first part of this workshop parallels certain segments of the workshop ‘So Entitled’ (described above).

You can download the 80-min ‘Water Ethics’ workshop plan. Accompanying video clips are as follows:

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Upper primary/junior high school workshop: Nature and De-extinction

Original materials shared under a Creative Commons license: Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives. Other materials are owned by those credited.

You can download the ‘Nature and De-extinction’ workshop plan (pp. 1 – 7) and supplementary materials (pp. 8 – 14). This is a 1.75-hour philosophical enquiry into the ethics of intervening in nature, the meaning of ‘nature’, the ethics of de-extinction, and more. This workshop uses an audio clip and visuals:

As an additional activity, you may wish to play this audio clip (edited from the podcast episode ‘Introducing This Is Love), and ask students whether the spiders’ behaviours are natural, and whether everything natural is good.

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Primary school philosophy module: ‘Wild and Free’

Shared under a Creative Commons license: Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives.

You can download four philosophical enquiry lesson plans and associated stimuli and activities, colour coded by suitability for primary school children of different ages. The enquiries are entitled ‘Wilder Than You Know’, ‘Wild Things’, ‘The Wild Girl’, and ‘Wild vs. Domesticated’. Also included is a page of conceptual background for teachers, examining the concepts ‘Wild’ and ‘Free.

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Junior primary school philosophy workshop: ‘Fitting In and Standing Out’

Shared under a Creative Commons license: Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives.

You can download the session plan and accompanying printable images (sourced from the internet) for this one-hour session for 5 – 7 year olds, which includes activities on camouflage and human beings’ place in nature (among other topics).

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Materials for a ‘Reflective Drawing’ art workshop on philosophical themes

The following three activities are designed for children, but could be used with older participants with little or no adaptation.

(1) Give participants printed copies of these body outlines and invite them to draw – for each emotion (e.g. anger, joy, love, fear, sadness) – where in the body they experience that emotion, how far it extends, and whether it has a direction. (To use this activity as the basis of a philosophical discussion, see the post Emotions and the embodied mind on our other blog, Playground Philosopher. And here are the cumulative results of this activity being conducted with numerous participants in the Emotionally}Vague research project.)

(2) For each of the modern-day mammals pictured here, here and here, imagine the sort of animal that may have once lived on the ‘evolutionary path’ as the species evolved from its shrew-like ancestor (the ‘Jurassic Mother’) to the animal you know today. Then, draw the animal you have imagined, and invent a name for its species. (Our post Imagining evolution on our other blog, Playground Philosopher, offers ideas for using this activity in the context of a philosophy workshop about evolution.)

(3) Show participants these four illustrations by Yelena Bryksenkova. Then invite participants to draw their own version on this template (with apologies to the artist). How would other species regard us humans, if they were to visit us in a zoo?

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3) MATERIALS FROM OTHER SOURCES

‘Intergenerational Justice’ podcast transcript

You can download my (slightly rough) abridged transcript from podcast episode ‘Intergenerational Justice’ on Canada’s Flourish radio (CJSW studio), featuring excellent interviews with climate justice philosophers Corey Katz and John Nolt.

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Papers on the application of Citizens’ Assemblies in educational contexts

Lipman, M. (1998), The Contributions of Philosophy to Deliberative Democracy. In D. Evans and I. Kucaradi (eds.). Teaching philosophy at the eve of the 21st century. 6-29. Ankara: International Federation of Philosophical Societies.

Samuelsson, M. (2016), Education for Deliberative Democracy: A typology of classroom discussions. Democracy and Education 24(1), 1-9.

Samuelsson, M. (2018), Education for Deliberative Democracy and the Aim of Consensus, Democracy and Education 26(1), 1-9.

Gershtenson, J., Rainey G., & Rainey, J. (2010), Creating Better Citizens? Effects of a model citizens’ assembly on student political attitudes and behavior. Journal of Political Science Education 6(2), 95-116.

Reykowski, J. (2006), Deliberative Democracy and “Human Nature”: An empirical approach. Political Psychology, 27, 323-346.

Weasel, L. (2017), From Deliberative Democracy to Communicative Democracy in the Classroom. A Response to “Education for Deliberative Democracy: A Typology of Classroom Discussions”. Democracy and Education 25(1).

Backer, D.I. (2017), The Critique of Deliberative Discussion. A Response to “Education for Deliberative Democracy: A Typology of Classroom Discussions”. Democracy and Education 25(1).

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Climate change educational resources, training websites and programs

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Podcast episodes
How to talk to kids about the climate crisis, Full Story podcast, The Guardian.

Links to numerous environment justice podcasts.

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Civil disobedience education resources

See Brian Martin’s excellent outline of Protest in a Liberal Democracy, Philosophy and Social Action, Vol. 20, Nos. 1-2, January-June 1994, pp. 13-24.

The Power of Courage: Civic Participation in Everyday Life (Years 3 – 5), Global Oneness Project.

Habits for a Healthy Democracy (Years 6 – 8)  See the ‘Reflecting and Projecting’ section on the Freedom Riders. Global Oneness Project.

More to be added here in due course.

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Other materials of interest

Bad Future, Better Future: a guide for kids, and everyone else, about climate change and what we can do about it by Julia Rosen with illustrations by Yuliya Parshina-Kottas

Books for the Climate Emergency: A list of books for children and adults recommended by BICAG, the Book Industry Climate Action Group. 

The Human Restoration Project supports progressive educators in building systematic change within schools. See the Project’s resources including Primer: A guide to human centric education.

Children, Citizenship and Environment: #SchoolStrike Edition by Bronwyn Hayward (2021) examines how students, with teachers, parents, and other activists can take effective action to confront the complex drivers of the current climate crisis including economic and social injustice, colonialism and racism. It reminds us of the importance of youth activism, and presents the ‘SEEDS’ model of strong environmental citizenship for the school strike generation, encouraging students to develop skills for Social agency, Environmental education, Embedded justice, Decentred deliberation and Self-transcendence.

Case study: Seeing Green by Allison M. Stevens and accompanying Discussion Protocols from the Harvard Justice in Schools Project. This US-based case study explores the challenges of teaching about climate change in a community where a large portion of the residents work in the petroleum industry. Should science teachers accommodate local concerns about the dangers of demonising the very industry their town’s economy relies on? Or teach climate change as the threat that scientists tell us it it?

Case study: Politics, Partisanship and Pedagogy: What should be controversial in the classroom? (micro version) by Heather Johnson and Ellis Reid and accompanying Discussion Protocols from the Harvard Justice in Schools Project. This US-based case study explores which topics are appropriately controversial for Year 10 students to investigate in a persuasive argument project, and which topics endanger safe and inclusive classroom spaces. See also the case study page which includes a longer version, a Reader’s theatre version, and facilitator guidelines. (This case study is not climate-related, but raises concerns that may still be relevant to the teaching of climate and ecological issues.)