IOE - Faculty of Education and Society


Learning and teaching of local knowledge for climate action through school-community collaboration

This preliminary study will explore teacher education programmes in the subjects in which climate change and sustainability education (CCSE) is usually taught.

This project is funded by the UCL Global Engagement Fund and will run from February 2023 to July 2023.


The background to this research is threefold: first, there is growing research that demonstrates the significance of integrating local knowledge in disaster risk reduction (DRR) and climate change adaptation (CCA) measures. This is an urgent call given much local knowledge of DRR and CCA is lost to younger generations. Research on how schools approach it is deemed critical. Second, recent DRR and CCA research shows that ‘starting early’ is an effective pathway for resilient communities. Children growing up with high environmental awareness is significant in times of climate emergency. Their disaster learning often leads to positive changes in communities. Nevertheless, school-community collaboration is an under-researched area. Such evidence is connected with previous work on community based DRR, and this is the third point. Policy makers and academics have mainstreamed ‘community-based’ and ‘participatory’ approaches as effective means for DRR and CCA, but most participatory initiatives discontinue once the funding terminates. One way to respond to this challenge is to develop a sustainable model that is embedded in existing social systems, e.g. education. Embeddedness is the key given schools’ intensive curricula.
These three agendas are shared in both England and Japan. The research, therefore, aims to find out the present situations of the learning and teaching of local knowledge for DRR and CCA, as well as of school-community collaborations in climate change and sustainability education (CCSE). The project will look at teacher education programmes to investigate the above issues of local knowledge and collaboration in preparing for climate-related disasters. With the Japanese collaborator, this project plans to identify curricular and pedagogical strategies and innovative initiatives in the target programmes and compare the cases in England and Japan for mutual learning. The study focuses on preparedness education – the learning and teaching for climate-related disasters – and examines teacher education programmes in the subjects in which CCSE is usually taught.


The plan is to look at four cases: Geography PGCE at IOE and another university in England, and the teacher education programmes in Social Studies at Ehime University and another university in Japan. The cities in which these programmes are offered are prone to climate-related disasters, and they likely have some context-specific local knowledge of DRR and CCA. 

The participants of the study are the leads of those programmes, who should have an overview of CCSE and local contexts. This research is of an interpretivist nature and employs a case study approach. Empirical data will be collected through semi-structured interviews with teacher educators and observations of the programmes’ lessons. 

As an initial inquiry, this project will aim to obtain an overview of the current situation, and speaking with the lead teacher educators will enable us to do so. We will request to observe lessons which involve DRR, CCA, local preparedness knowledge and collaboration with communities. The collected data will be thematically analysed bearing in mind the key concepts of local knowledge, school-community collaboration and participation. 


Project lead


  • Dr Masayoshi Inoue - Associate Professor, Faculty of Education, Ehime University, Japan