New Perspectives in Science Education

Edition 13

Accepted Abstracts

Reframing the Teaching of Climate Change Through Empathy and Social Innovation

Michael Taber, Colorado College (United States)

Miroslav Kummel, Colorado College (United States)


Since the First Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report (1990), science educators have been developing numerous activities and learning modules for students at all levels, from primary through university. Yet, most of our instructional design has focused on scientific literacy using traditional scientific boundaries (e.g., classical physics), as if students were an empty vessel and lacking core climate science knowledge (Hindley & Wall, 2017). Climate change educators have also embraced policy and economic theories as part of developing the students understanding through a more integrated approach and one that involves the Anthropocene as an ideological framing (Leichenko & O’Brien, 2020). We present here our experience with introducing social innovation through empathy mapping as a means for developing agency or the belief that one’s actions can create change when solutions are often too abstract (Bennet & McWorter, 2019) or the psychological distance for sufficient appraisal of issues is to distant (Chu & Yang, 2019). We present here preliminary results from social innovation activities were introduced into three courses: a traditional introduction to climate change course, an advanced course in environmental science, and a science methods course for future K-12 educators.

Keywords: Empathy, Ontology, Social Innovation, Climate Change

[1] Bennet, A. & Bennet, D. (2008). Knowledge mobilization in the social sciences and humanities: Moving from research to action. Frost, WV: MQI Press.
[2] Chu, H., & Yang, J. Z. (2019). Emotion and the psychological distance of climate change. Science Communication, 41(6), 761-789.
[3] Hindley A., Wall T. (2018) A Unifying, Boundary-Crossing Approach to Developing Climate Literacy. In: Leal Filho W. (eds) Implementing Sustainability in the Curriculum of Universities. World Sustainability Series. Springer, Cham.
[4] Leichenko & O’Brien, Teaching climate change in the Anthropocene: An integrative approach, Anthropocene, Volume 30, 2020, 100241, ISSN 2213-3054,


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