IOE - Faculty of Education and Society


Event examines the role of education in a changing climate

8 November 2021

UCL Institute of Education (IOE) and the City of Glasgow College have hosted a symposium in support of COP26 about preparing for education and work in a changing climate.

Climate Action Now sign at climate protest

The event, which brought together policymakers, business leaders, scholars, and activists, examined the role of further and higher education in advancing climate justice and just transitions. Just transitions are the processes and outcomes that lead to a net zero world and secure support for those who will be economically hit by this.

Following introductions from IOE Director Professor Li Wei, Principal and CEO of City of Glasgow College Dr Paul Little, and Glasgow Chambers of Commerce CEO Stuart Patrick, Professor Ken Spours (IOE) delivered his stimulus paper for the climate conference.

Professor Spours argued that humanity is facing multiple crises, in which the climate emergency intersects with the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic and existing social and economic divisions. He then examined responses to these crises, including the Green New Deal, the Green Industrial Revolution and the Green Transition, as well as different dimensions of Just Transitions, such as key policies and ideas surrounding a Just Transitions organisation and local system.

Professor Spours applied this conceptual framework to further and higher education in the UK, arguing that further education colleges and universities, working with a wide range of social partners, have a unique contribution and leadership role to play in local and regional Just Transition systems. Key to this are their capacities to develop both new skills and scientific knowledge and awareness, while also boosting education participation for all sections of the community.

In closing his presentation, Professor Spours said: “The scale and urgency of the crisis requires that the Just Transition be accelerated. This will not be achieved by new national and global policies alone, important though they are, but by a whole-system approach with reciprocal actions at different societal levels, from bottom to top and from local to global.”

The event also connected the symposium to activists in the Global South and featured three short films showcasing work from Brazil, Fiji and Mozambique as part of Professor Tristan McCowan’s project on transforming universities for a changing climate. IOE Research Fellow Dr Charlotte Nussey and several postgraduate and doctoral students who have worked on the project also contributed to the event.

Symposium: Tertiary Education - The Race to Net Zero took place on Monday 8 November 2021.



Image: Filmbetracht from Pixabay