“What are climate change competencies, and how to teach, learn and study them? “

by Laura Riuttanen and the INAR Eduteam.

The urgent societal need for climate action requires climate change expertise. But who is a climate change expert? What is the role of atmospheric and Earth system science education? In a recent publication, Riuttanen et al. (2021) examined what competencies do atmospheric and Earth system scientists teach in selected programmes in seven European countries, and how they view the importance of various competencies for the students to learn. We found that the atmospheric and Earth system scientists taught and valued the highest the traditional academic competencies related e.g. to critical thinking and applying knowledge. The normative, strategic and interpersonal competencies of sustainability were generally less valued and taught. The largest teaching gaps were found in competencies such as developing new ideas, interpersonal competency, making arguments and looking for solutions, critical thinking, collaboration and communication skills. Preferred collaborators for atmospheric and Earth system scientists were scientists from their own field or from other natural sciences, while collaborators from other sciences and wider society were less popular choices. The atmospheric and Earth systems scientists in our study did not see themselves as climate change experts. 

In the research project “Learning of the competencies of effective climate change mitigation and adaptation in the education system”, (ClimComp, Academy of Finland 2021-2024, https://blogs.helsinki.fi/climatecompetencies/) we aim further to study the climate change competencies and how they are learned. In collaboration with Finnish Meteorological Institute and UH educational sciences, we study the Climate University online courses (www.climateuniversity.fi), produce new courses that utilize climate data as well as teacher education and a pedagogical model for optimal learning of the climate competencies.

Laura Riuttanen will give an online seminar on Thursday 3rd of June at 14:15, where she will introduce INAR education research and development team (https://blogs.helsinki.fi/edu-team/).  

Riuttanen, L., Ruuskanen, T., Äijälä, M. and Lauri, A.: Society needs experts with climate change competencies – what is the role of higher education in atmospheric and Earth system sciences?, Tellus B: Chemical and Physical Meteorology, 73:1, 1-14, 2021. DOI: 10.1080/16000889.2021.1917862