Anthropogenic climate change (and its evil twin of biodiversity loss) are the greatest challenge in our history as a species. We have created a fossil fuel-driven civilization, whose operations are tearing apart the planet’s web of life. Our economy, laws, technologies, political institutions, and educational systems have been designed to facilitate human supremacy and limitless economic growth. We assumed that “Nature” is inexhaustible and will always provide anything we want. Including stable ecosystems, abundant biodiversity, soil fertility, predictable rainfall, weather patterns, and seasons. We were wrong. In order to transition to an ecological civilization, we need “rapid, far-reaching, and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society” (IPCC Special Report 2018). We must become a climate literate society. Our classrooms are ground zero for this effort. Building universal climate literacy begins with young people and with the stories they grow up with.
Our mission at Climate Lit is to foster climate literacy
through literature, film, and other media for young people.
Who We Are
Established in 2021, Climate Lit is an an interdisciplinary resource hub dedicated to advancing climate literacy education. We are based in the Center for Climate Literacy at the University of Minnesota’s College of Education and Human Development. We offer five types of resources: 1) a database of environmental literature, ecofiction, ecoliterature, cli-fi, and other literatures and media that help nourish climate literacy through creative engagement with and critical discussions among young people; 2) a Glossary of terms to build young people’s climate vocabulary; 3) Events with authors, educators and scholars to foster collaboration on literature-based initiatives; 4) a peer-reviewed, open access journal called Climate Literacy in Education for practitioner-oriented materials; and 5) trainings, workshops, and seminars (hosted by the Center or partner organizations). Content is updated and revised on a regular basis with any new entries we have available.
The resources we offer build on the following assumptions:
Although issues of climate change are discipline-specific, addressing climate change is not primarily a scientific or technological challenge. It is a challenge for our imaginations and story systems. As scholars in the environmental humanities have shown, scientific evidence alone is not sufficient to trigger the social and political transformation necessary to address climate change. The challenges facing us require that we develop an ecocentric mindset. And the best technology we have for this task is called the story.
Teaching about climate change should be at the heart of our educational practice. Centering discussions about issues of climate change in all subject areas is the most meaningful action we can take to nurture universal climate literacy and empower young people to become agents of change in a transition to a just, ecological civilization. Traditional disciplinary knowledge disconnected from climate literacy is no longer adequate to equip young people with the skills necessary to thrive in the climate-altered world of the 21st century.
Children’s and young adult literature—fiction and nonfiction across the spectrum of genres, formats, and media—is ground zero for helping us come to grips with the many facets of climate change. Young people have more stake in the future than anyone else; they have more courage to stand up against the hypocrisy of politicians and business leaders, whose “solutions” to climate change are attempts to save the status quo rather than the planet; and they have more reasons to invest their creative energies in the creation of an ecological civilization. Literature, film, and art for this audience are not additional but the most important avenues for raising climate awareness and mobilizing climate action.