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Pacific island Climate Education Partnership (PCEP) is a collaborative network of over 60 partners working together toward a new vision of climate education. Core partners include Pacific Resources for Education and Learning (PREL), WestEd, University of Hawaiʻi (UH), and College of the Marshall Islands (CMI). 

As a partnership, PCEP worked toward a vision of climate education that exemplifies modern science and local ecological knowledge, while addressing the urgency of climate impacts in the Pacific region, primarily the U.S.-affiliated Pacific islands of Hawaiʻi, American Sāmoa, Guam, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Republic of the Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, and Palau. To address this goal, PCEP developed a five-year strategic plan that incorporated a range of interconnected goals, grouped into four priority areas: Climate Education Framework (CEF), Local Ecological Knowledge (LEK), Learning & Teaching, and Community-School Partnerships.

PCEP achieved a balance between implementing the structure of their plan while responding to emergent openings and leveraging opportunities. As a result, the project accomplished much more than originally intended.

How has PCEP built capacity in climate education in the region among educational administrators, teachers, and in community-school relationships?

PCEP built capacity in the region for climate education through sustained professional development combined with place-based learning resources and backed by a content framework and the support of community organizations also working to better understand and address climate change.

The range of professional development workshops on content and pedagogical approaches to teaching climate change was significant. Through questionnaires and focus groups, teachers indicated use of professional learning in their classrooms. This was especially strong for those in DASH: Developmental Approaches to Science, Health, and Technology and the place-based learning workshops. PCEP also supported learning garden trainings and the development of the Pacific Storytellers Cooperative to engage educators and learners beyond the classroom.

PCEP partnered with UH to host a series of trainings, and the WestEd’s Making Sense of Science (MSS) teacher professional learning program was presented to teachers in Honolulu, but not in other sites. Feedback indicated that MSS would not be fitting for Pacific island teachers. Therefore, PCEP opened an investigation into children’s ecological reasoning in Kosrae and Hawaiʻi Island. And to support pre-/in-service educators, PCEP launched a climate education course at CMI, which has been incorporated into the school’s course offerings.

Through the CEF, PCEP made a lasting contribution to climate education by stimulating the revision of standards across the region to embed climate science into the region’s national and state standards

PCEP also developed a considerable suite of resources (books, posters, videos, web interactives) to support teaching and learning about climate change through local environments and languages. Production exceeded expectations. Books were purchased by M/DOEs and disseminated to teachers for use in classrooms along with free materials. These tools represent island-based resources in a region dependent on books oriented to the continental US.

PCEP spawned/encouraged community-school partnerships through local professional learning communities (LPLCs), educators and community organizers working toward addressing the impacts of climate change in their communities. 

How has PCEP identified and engaged Indigenous knowledges and practices, and how have these influenced climate change learning and teaching in the region?

PCEP used LEK as the framing for place-based education and learned how to address LEK to elevate its presence in trainings and resources. The Place-Based Education: Elements of Design booklet and related workshops engaged teachers in LEK and demonstrated ways to use this knowledge with students. Elders with knowledge of LEK worked with teachers in CNMI and Kosrae. And LEK was infused into the Agroforests: Growing Resilient Communities book.

What have we learned about contextualizing climate education to island cultures and languages from the interactions of climate scientists, learning scientists, practitioners, and the community in the Pacific? 

PCEP demonstrated that climate scientists and educators together can make considerable contributions to furthering climate education. Scientists helped to ensure accurate information for educational products and for the CEF, as well as for staff understanding of climate science. They contributed to developing workshops and creating materials that explained the rationale and impact of climate change; while engagement with PCEP staff and teachers helped climate scientists to view science through cultural lenses.

What is the evidence concerning the cohesion, efficiency, and sustainability of the partnership? 

PCEP’s core partnership provided the expertise and diversity to support the four priority areas. Although the formal partnership is not feasible after PCEP, the principals involved worked well together and will maintain individual and organizational collaborations for other mutually supportive initiatives

PCEP was instrumental in building local partnerships through the LPLCs. LPLC members built capacity in communicating about climate change while also allowing PCEP staff to connect with governmental agencies and environmental organizations working on climate change to school systems and classrooms. LPLCs in at several communities will continue to support learning and teaching about climate change.

Last Modified: 11/21/2018
Modified by: Corrin Barros