Climate justice education

From social movement learning to schooling

Authored by: Callum McGregor , Eurig Scandrett , Beth Christie , Jim Crowther

Routledge Handbook of Climate Justice

Print publication date:  November  2018
Online publication date:  November  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138689350
eBook ISBN: 9781315537689
Adobe ISBN:


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As a contested term, climate justice means very different things for different social actors such as activists, policymakers, governments, trade associations and the UN. In recognition of this, as educators working in diverse contexts, we analytically frame the challenges and opportunities for climate justice education as matters of “cognitive justice” and “translation” (de Sousa Santos et al., 2008). Whilst the former is concerned with moving from the “monoculture” of Eurocentric epistemology to an “ecology” of knowledge-producing practices, the latter addresses how this might be achieved. Specifically, to see such education as a process of translation is to recognise the need to create spaces for mutual intelligibility, in order to find common ground without erasing difference. With this in mind, we begin by acknowledging the foundational role that social movements have played in generating public learning on climate change for over three decades (Clover and Hall, 2010; Jamison, 2010; Scandrett et al., 2012). More specifically, the nascent discourse of climate justice has challenged the dominant discourses of sustainable development and ecological modernisation, which frame mainstream climate change education as a global “post-political” problem. In doing so, climate justice forces educational interventions to take account of the geographical and generational distribution of burdens and benefits, threats to cultural integrity and the shape and scope of citizen participation in climate politics. Drawing on professional experience and ongoing empirical research with activists and teachers, we trace the extent to which climate justice knowledge, partially generated by social movement learning outside of formal educational spaces, is attended to within formal education spaces, both in relation to the teacher and the learner. We conclude by offering our own situated suggestions about the challenges and opportunities for creating educational spaces for translation, which are able to productively move between informal and more formal contexts.

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