Climate change action course earns national award

A team of 16 Western collaborators have been recognized for innovation in teaching and learning by the Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education (STLHE). Their combined efforts created the Connecting for Climate Change Action course, which earned one of STLHE’s five D2L (Desire2Learn) Innovation in Teaching and Learning awards.

“All of this has come from a passion to see change,” said geography and environment chair and professor Katrina Moser, who led the charge to create the new course after a pivotal moment.

Moser had been teaching Western’s first dedicated climate change course for approximately five years when she noticed a growing despair among her students. Although they were enjoying the course and learning the concepts, the consequences of climate change were leaving some overwhelmed.

“One student told me she was depressed,” Moser said.

As a paleoclimatologist “in a slow, uphill battle” to drive change after nearly 30 years in the field, Moser realized she “was probably a little depressed too.”

Inspiring action

The experience motivated her to reimagine the course, with a goal of helping students apply what they were learning and take action to help mitigate climate change.

After consulting with experts from across campus, including philosophers and learning and teaching specialists, Moser assembled a core course creation team, including herself, Beth Hundey, curriculum specialist and professor, geography and environment; Sara Mai Chitty, curriculum and pedagogy advisor, Office of Indigenous Initiatives; Serena Mendizábal, subject matter specialist, geography and environment and Hawlii Pichette, a Mushkego Cree (Treaty 9) artist/illustrator, who currently resides in London, Ont.

The team grew to include students and contributors from the Centre for Teaching and Learning (CTL) and Western Technology Services/ITRC.

Aamir Aman from the CTL was instrumental in creating a beautiful online space for the course, and staff and students at the ITRC created amazing videos to illustrate the ideas,” Moser said. “It is so clear to us that this course wouldn’t be as successful without the gifts of each team member – which is also a key lesson in the course. Each of us brings our unique and much-needed gifts to the climate crisis.”

Learn more here.