Climate Crisis and Curriculum

PRE-PROPOSAL  1. Media Artifact

Climate Crisis and Curriculum 

  2. Persona and POV statement Persona:  Persona name: Mikayla Age: 11 School/occupation: 6th grade student at Michigan Middle School Location: Detroit    Quote: "Dad, why don't I see the green dragonflies anymore when we’re camping?” (The Hine’s Emerald Dragonfly is endangered in the northeastern lower peninsula of Michigan due to urban and industrial development where humans use pesticides which get into groundwater destroying important wetlands where they breed.     About:
  • loves to play soccer but has asthma that inhibits her ability to play outside,
  • favorite school subject is history,
  • chores at home include taking out the trash and recycling,
  • she loves to go camping on the weekends with her dad and brother
  • Play and win the middle school soccer competitions with her best friend on the outdoor league
  • She watched a documentary in her history class about indigenous lives and wants to read a book about current indigenous lives,
  • Wants to participate in her school's climate strike

POV Statement:

Mikayla, a bright and energetic sixth grader needs a way to connect her experiences to her classwork because her education doesn’t account for the current environmental changes she is seeing in her community.

3. Potential Solutions:

Describe three reasonable, feasible potential solutions or approaches that would help address this problem.

SOLUTION 1: Professional Development of Teachers Relating to Environmental/Earth Science Material that is Interdisciplinary and Academic/Advocotory in nature:

  1. Michigan law requires five days per school year (six hours per day, for a total of 30 hours) of teacher professional development according to Act 451 (The Revised School Code) Section 380.1527.

  2. Currently the content of this professional development “should be: 1. Relevant, on-going and job-embedded; 2. Specific to the teacher's needs; 3. Aligned to the School Improvement Plan and individual professional development plans (as appropriate); and 4. Focused on increasing student learning.”

    1. Additionally “District staff are encouraged to design professional development experiences which: 1. Serve the purpose of increasing student learning 2. Align with your school improvement plan 3. Are planned, ongoing, and intensive 4. Are supported in some way by the school or district, such as through released time or cost.”

  3. We propose requiring, by amending the above law, that one of the five days, or approximately six of the 30 hours of teacher professional development is to be related to environmental/earth science material that is interdisciplinary and academic/advocatory in nature.

  4. We define this requirement as material that connects the scientific principles behind climate change to the social, economic, political, etc. causes and effects in regards to historical and current events to provide teachers with the knowledge to properly address this information based on Michigan’s adoption of the Next Generation Science Standards and Social Studies state standards

  5. This will not require any additional funding from the school district, as it is within current professional development time requirements

SOLUTION 2: Require climate change education and state-provided curriculum support: 

  1. The State Board of Education shall require the following themes be taught and will provide curriculum materials to support these themes. 

  2. By legislating specific climate change standards, Michigan schools will be required to provide such curriculum to students instead of only aiming to achieve benchmark standards that address the scientific principles of climate change. 

  3. These curriculum materials would inform local school boards and provide resources to teachers and administrators on what to include and ways to discuss climate change as a social, political, and economic force in the context of local environments and current endeavors to prevent climate change 

  4. We would model the requirements after the Connecticut legislation Bill 7082: An Act Concerning the Inclusion of African-American Studies in the Public School Curriculum that requires “climate change consistent with the Next Generation Science Standards”.

  5. We would model the curriculum from California's Education and the Environment Initiative Curriculum, which provides free, K-12 environmental literacy curriculum, which has also been integrated into textbooks and assessments in the state of California. The inclusion of these materials in textbooks and assessments would ensure schools properly implement these lessons  

  6. Initial funding costs will be initially higher, however, long term costs will be minimal. By basing these requirements and curriculum on other states’ initial research, costs will be minimized from previous implementations. Regular assessment updates are standard procedure, and the inclusion of material consistent with this bill can be included in a regular update.

SOLUTION 3: Require Earth Science as a High School Graduation Requirement:

  1. Michigan requires three years of science to graduate. However, it only requires 2 course specifications: biology and choice of chemistry, physics, or anatomy.

  2. We propose requiring the third year consist of an Earth or Environmental Science course

  3. We will model this requirement after West Virginia and North Carolina, the only 2 states that require some form of Earth Science graduation requirements. This is done by passing legislation through the state House of Representatives.

  4. Most Michigan high schools already have an Earth or Environmental Science course that is based on the Next Generation Science Standards. These courses would remain the same, it would just be required that students take this course in order to graduate.

  5. This would require schools to hire a teacher who can teach this type of course if not already retaining a staff member with the qualifications to do so. Thus, the additional cost of this proposal would be applicable salary and benefits for this educator.


Reference to a current Michigan bill or law that relates in some way to your proposal:

Current Michigan Revised School Code Act 451 Section 380.1527 Professional Development requirements

Act 451 of 1976 380.1278b Award of high school diploma; credit requirements; personal curriculum; annual report. Sec. 1278b.

Why this proposal will make a difference in the lives of students of all ages across Michigan, or a significant subgroup (by age, background, economic status, and/or region, etc.) of students in Michigan:

  • Climate change affects everyone in the world, albeit in different ways. In particular, in Michigan, both agriculture/natural resource and manufacturing industries are large revenue sources for commercial business. Climate change will change the landscape and viability of crops and biodiversity, along with regulations and types of products manufactured respectively. Not only will there be visible differences in the landscape, but the economic impact will be far-reaching. Additionally, the severity of climate change has many health and weather-related impacts that can personally afflict any individual, including students in Michigan. 

    • For these same reasons, climate issues are becoming increasingly more prevalent in politics, both at the national and state levels. Thus, students should be informed, both generally and in regard to their local communities, about climate change's impact, to produce educated citizens who want to, and can responsibly make, informed democratic decisions. 

  • An interdisciplinary curriculum will give students of all ages a way to connect their learning between subjects/classes and apply this information/skills to relevant topics in their lives

    • Examples of information/skills gained include a critical thinking lens, the ability to evaluate alternative perspectives, and resources to discover various actors in and affected by large- and small-scale events

  • Professional development will expose teachers to new ways of approaching subjects and information to broaden their knowledge regarding climate change, its causes, and its impacts. Teachers can take this information to modify how they teach climate change and as a way to include primary sources into their classroom, especially for children who may have less access to these opportunities. Specifically, training on how to teach this information is vitally important to the success of the curriculum.

    • Teachers will have the information to address student inquiries regarding local climate related observations

How and where did you learn about the issues underlying your proposal?

Initially, Allison became involved in a conversation through an MSC posting regarding an environmental focused preschool. She began thinking about how to integrate climate change concepts on a non-scientific level. Once we both (Allison and Elizabeth) connected for the proposal document through the class, we found commonalities in our lack of climate change education and interest in current climate student activists, such as Greta Thunberg. Additionally, this was about the time of the Washtenaw County Climate Strike. Our interest in how the information was disseminated and how we could participate was piqued. With this combined interest, we both began to see how environmental topics connected to our daily lives, such as risks to communities in Michigan and through our service at Food Gatherers and work for hunger alleviation. We moved into looking at state education requirements and how they spoke about climate change and noticed that with the information set forth, climate change concerns are not being adequately addressed. Our combined experiences in the Michigan Community Scholars Program trained us to critically evaluate social and political issues and we discovered how climate change issues disproportionately affect marginalized communities. The current curriculum, along with legislation across the US, is conducive to implementing the changes we propose. In our shared experience as students in the Education for Empowerment: Advancing Equity Through Policy minor, we both have spent time analyzing the goals and purposes of schooling. We found the breadth of climate change taught does not align with the goals and purposes of public schooling. These experiences informed the exploration of research that formed the basis of our media artifact.

How has your service activity influenced your thinking about this proposal?

When we first began our service with Food Gatherers, we had a hard time seeing the relevance of the work we were doing — rescuing food that was going to be trashed, serving food at their community kitchen, and distributing food to other food banks — to addressing climate change education. However, once we took a step back to reflect on the ways in which Food Gatherers utilities sustainable practices, the connections between food and climate change became apparent. Part of the way Food Gatherers can provide 6.3 million pounds of food each year, through both their community kitchen and to other food distribution centers, is by rescuing products that are deemed unfit to be sold in supermarkets. In collecting their products this way, they are both reducing the additional request for food and are also saving food from unnecessary waste. In these efforts, they are giving autonomy to disadvantaged communities to make sustainable choices. In researching how to make climate change curriculum interdisciplinary and local, we have been thinking about how climate change is affecting and will affect the midwest in the future. Students, specifically in Michigan, should learn about the importance of climate change in farming and food production. Food Gatherers gave us important insight into how access to food, especially healthy food, is limited for many people, even in communities such as Ann Arbor. If we are to continue providing services such as serving meals and creating food banks, teaching climate change in a local and interdisciplinary way becomes increasingly important in order to sustain these public programs. Every week at Food Gatherers, we are reminded of the connection between important public support programs and environmental literacy. If we do not fight to protect our communities and the environment in which we live, we will soon not be able to provide these assistance programs in a healthy and sustainable way. Therefore, climate change cannot simply be taught in a scientific context, but rather one that reflects the intersection of the economy, discrimination, systemic racism, health, and government, as it truly appears in the real world and in our experiences at Food Gatherers. In many food distribution centers, there is limited food, thus, nutritional content is not valued nor are dietary choices respected; it is viewed that one is fortunate to be given a meal. In our work serving hot meals in the community kitchen, each individual is afforded a choice in what dishes to take and alternative options (vegetarian, etc). Indirectly, climate change impacts economies where income and expenditure amounts may change (even inversely), thus, affordable or healthy food may be harder to come by. An interdisciplinary climate change education can provide students with these insights, along with the skills to see these connections for themselves, when making personal choices and participating in democracy. Food Gatherers exemplifies the work of creating intersectional and interdisciplinary solutions to the problem of hunger which is, and will be even more closely related in the future, to climate change and justice of all forms. Students should be learning about their local economies, lands, and people in the context of climate change and societal implications in order to engage students by making the issue personal and informing them in ways to make positive changes in their communities. 

Link to your media artifact(s) giving background on the issue:

Climate Crisis and Curriculum 


Talk directly with at least 3 real live people who have special knowledge about this topic or the impact your proposal would have, and summarize their comments. These may include people appearing in your media artifact (video, podcast, etc.).

CONSULTATION 1: Kristin Kreiner

Ms. Kreiner, a 6th grade teacher at Ypsilanti Community Middle School has 20+ years of experience developing curriculum, as well as teaching elementary/middle school science at both charter and public schools. 

She gave us a look into the actual professional development Ypsilanti teachers go through in order to help us see where our proposed solution would fit. She shared with us that most in-house professional development is in regards to raising test scores and supporting students through a positive school climate, which is vitally important for funding and the academic success of students. We also learned that much of the professional development takes place over the summer to mitigate time lost for students during the school year. 

We discussed our curriculum-change solution most heavily, as it was most relevant to Ms. Kreiner’s background. She immediately emphasized the importance of funding being attached to new requirements and curriculum, especially in terms of technology. It is difficult for students to learn and engage with the materials without hands-on experiences. We learned it is extremely frustrating for teachers to have new curriculum mandated to them when they cannot implement it correctly without the necessary funds for technology and supplies (Ypsi only has 3 laptop/ipad carts for 6 classrooms). 

Ms. Kreiner explained how there is a strict timeline in pacing guides for current curriculum, so we should be mindful of how/where we implement these curriculum changes to provide the least burden to teachers. In terms of teacher attitudes, Ms. Kreiner thinks some teachers will embrace our curriculum change with passion, while others will want very clear guidelines, especially elementary school teachers. She added that most elementary school teachers are trained in English or math, and science is often a scary subject for them to teach, so many attempt to avoid the subject all together. For our new curriculum to be implemented efficiently in elementary school, it should be almost script-like with clear guidelines so a non-science teacher would easily be able to teach it. In terms of student engagement, she reminded us to make sure the curriculum is local and personally relevant for students by getting students outside the classroom.

For our graduation requirement solution, we talked about Ms. Kreiner’s experience in high school, where environmental/earth science was viewed as the science you took if you couldn’t handle the “college prep” track. Ms. Kreiner believes there is more public support for science education than ever, so this solution might be the easiest in terms of legislator and community buy-in. Another interesting note we had not considered that Ms. Kreiner brought to our attention was that if this new graduation requirement becomes mandated, more people might go into that field of teaching.


CONSULTATION 2: Erin Burkett

Erin worked with Professors Zint and Ibañez when she was here in Ann Arbor on their project with Ann Arbor Public Schools: Climate Change and Michigan Forests. We wanted to gain her insight into this project and where she thought changes could be made going forward to make a similar endeavor scalable. A lot of the logistical aspects of the project came to light, including timing, costs, and scaling from a few schools to several across the years of the project. She noted that when delivering a curriculum to teachers, it is a product and accessibility and ease of use is integral, thus, professional development is integral. Another takeaway was that costs are high when doing out of the classroom field work that requires bussing and technology. Additionally, she said that their ten-day curriculum did not necessarily stay on track, and posed additionally complications of ensuring the technology or busses were available for scheduled activities. We also discussed funding and how their pilot program was funded through grants, which coupled with assessment they already wanted to take on. She did note that it was hard to make assessments that fit with NGSS as they are designed to facilitate more abstract thinking, which is hard to test. Finally, she added insight into meeting children where they are, both emotionally and intellectually. She noted that the idea should be to encourage this learning, not scare children regarding climate change. Additionally, NGSS has not been the science standards for very long, therefore all students currently in K-12 grade levels may not have been taught with NGSS since kindergarten. Thus, paying attention to what grade levels have foundational NGSS experience is important when looking to implement materials that build off of NGSS.


Betsy Davis, one of our consultations, is a teacher educator specializing in elementary school science education. We discussed the need to teach climate change as an ethical issue to the profession, and what that would look like being put into practice. Although she talked about how it is sometimes tricky to talk about, it is necessary to recognize teachers have an ethical obligation to teach this content in a way that is respectful and accurate. In terms of professional development, she saw an opportunity to pair individual science and social students teachers with each other to better integrate an interdisciplinary method of studying climate change, and if possible, create a team teaching environment with two teachers, a social studies and science teacher, teaching together in the same classroom.  This type of collaboration would be easiest in middle school because of the standards taught surrounding these issues and the collaborative nature of middle school classrooms. 

We talked in detail about the curriculum solution, and she gave us many helpful insights to the resilience and idealistic nature of children, which would make elementary/middle school the perfect time to educate students on these topics. In terms of pre-service teacher training, there isn’t much wiggle room, so it would be extremely important to provide comprehensive professional development. To add climate change content to pre-service teacher training, she suggested making them add-on courses to get a special certificate in teaching climate change. We also asked about assessment, which is a very important piece to our proposal. Because we are starting with a pilot program, she advised us to not think so much about state assessments but instead about the ways, both formatively and summatively, in which to assess the success of the pilot program. 

We also spoke about adding an earth/environmental science requirement to high school. We talked about the mismatch between the high school standards and graduation requirements, and how in order to meet the standards, it would be important that students have a background in earth/environmental science. We asked about the feasibility of this requirement, and she shared with us that she doesn’t know of any earth/environmental teacher shortage. She also shared how one teacher may have certification in two subjects, so there may be more earth/environmental science teachers than we think. 

In terms of funding for all three of our solutions, she advised us to do something similar to California, to partner with non-profit organizations for partial funding. Overall, we had a great conversation about feasibility, teacher training, and narrowing our focus to middle school in order to meet our goals.

CONSULTATION 4: Amber Bismack 

We met with Amber Bismack, who just completed her doctorate in science education, to discuss our proposal and the ways in which we could improve the feasibility and integrate meaningful assessments. We were referred to Amber through our previous consultation, Professor Davis. Amber illuminated parts of our proposal that we thought about, but realized we never actually put on paper. For example, she advised us to accentuate the civic engagement and local sides of our proposal. One specific suggestion on a way to both do this and build comprehensive assessments was through an action project required for all students who completed the curriculum. Also in terms of assessment, we talked about expanding assessment past curriculum to also including assessment of the professional development. Amber highlighted another important purpose of the professional development: providing resources for teachers to learn how to talk to students and their parents about climate change in a way that is effective and respectful. She also prompted us to think about the ways in which we could present this to the House of Representatives as a way for Michigan students to grow and increase test scores. This is a bit different than how we had been thinking of it: as a moral obligation of schools. However, it is important to consider how we should tailor our message based upon who we are presenting it to. We also got Amber’s advice on funding. She suggested that we compile a list of possible connections with for profit and non-profit organizations to get lawmakers thinking about possible connections that could be made to receive funding for this project. She challenged us to find organizations that value both climate change activism and education, as well as large foundations such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundations or Michigan universities. Overall, Amber gave us a much needed perspective about what we are still missing from our proposal and ways in which we can make it more feasible for the state of Michigan. 


CONSULTATION 5: Stephanie Tubman 

Stephanie Tubman, the Coordinator of Curriculum Development and Implementation for the Michigan Science Teaching and Assessment Reform(Mi-STAR)  was a consultation referred to us by our previous contact, Erin. We were particularly interested in the development and scalability, along with ways Mi-STAR incorporates professional development for teachers. Our conversation with Stephanie made us rethink the ways we hoped to structure our professional development, to be as effective as possible. She shared the Train Your Trainer method that the Mi-STAR program uses: a 3-hour online module that teachers are to complete before up to 5 days of professional development hosted by a program facilitator. These days are spent practicing how to teach the material. She emphasized that this training, especially in a pilot program could be a combined event between schools to cut costs, and also as a way to connect teachers that can aid each other with teaching tips and tricks they have used with this curriculum. She emphasized that the implementation is made easier when teachers are incorporated in the development process, so that the first end product is already reviewed before actual implementation. This framing of the situation was an important point that she pointed out. She emphasized how Mi-STAR is filling the niche of NGSS aligned curriculum that is otherwise lacking, which afforded the program a lot of buy-in by schools and funders alike. She emphasized that we need to be able to frame our ‘product’ in a way that is valuable to teachers and schools themselves, not just the overall importance of climate change. This will aid us in approaching the funding aspects. She shared that dependent on the framing and who and how our proposal suggests developing and assessing the curriculum, various grants could be the primary source of funding as they were for her. In particular, the National Science Foundation would be a good starting place. Overall, Stephanie shared that she felt our proposal was a good initiative that was a needed entity in the education space, and her insights into specific program development features are helpful in shaping where we can improve upon our proposal.

Reaction or advice from a Topic Coordinator:

Devin’s critique of our proposed solutions helped affirm the path we were hoping to take after talking through our three proposed solutions with our consultations. We were able to see that our original conception of the ideas missed the integral link of professional development and curriculum adaptation, along with addressing some more serious issues. We were prompted to make this connection when Devin challenged us to consider the desired outcomes for professional development in tangible ways. This is when we identified professional development and the implementation of the curriculum as dependent forces working together for the same goal.  Moreso, his perception of our first proposed solution of professional development as a cost-beneficial process brought us back to that focus in our formal proposal statements, instead of where some of our consultations were leading us to make additionally paid programs a part of the curriculum. Additionally, Devin’s inquiry to how our proposal would be assessed confirmed that we wanted to implement this as a pilot program as was suggested to us by Professor Fahy. Additionally, Devin’s first comment on our persona and point of view statement came full circle when multiple of our consultations felt the age of our persona was ideal for our proposed endeavors.

Research process:

Our final goal, get climate change into the classroom, has remained the same throughout this process, but the operationalization of this goal has evolved tremendously as we researched, met with experts, and considered our fellow MSC peers’ recommendations and insights. We began this process by researching how climate change is taught in schools, which involved reading all the Michigan education standards as well as Next Generation Science Standards and scientific articles. In this research, we came across both the cases in California and Connecticut, which prompted us to explore implementing a similar curriculum in Michigan. In its preliminary stages, we saw our solution as only the implementation of new curriculum K-12. 

As we continued to explore curricula and look for alternative solutions, we began to consider how teachers would become trained to use this new curriculum. We originally only conceived of training as happening at the university level, with new teacher training. We realized that veteran teachers would also need to become familiar with the new curriculum and that professional development was the route that this could take. Thus, we began looking into what counts as professional development and how much is required of teachers which would eventually prompt us to ask Ms. Kreiner about her experience with professional development. 

We also moved into more in-depth research on the curriculum implementation and how they worked with previous education standards in their respective states. We also contrasted this with the requirements in Michigan. To our excitement, both Michigan and California use NGSS standards. In researching these requirements we came across the fact that Michigan does not require an Earth/Environmental Science course in high school to graduate, although there are Earth/Environmental science standards in NGSS. This confusion led us to consider integrating the topics of earth science into biology, physics, and chemistry to ensure all students received the earth science materials even if they didn’t take the class. We quickly realized this would not be feasible and would require an overhaul of all high school science curriculum where there is little room for additional content. 

In beginning to look for consultations, we were googling teachers, climate change interests, and curriculum experts in the Ann Arbor area. This is how we happened across the Climate Change and Michigan Forests project conducted by U-M Professors Michaela Zint and Inés Ibáñez in partnership with Ann Arbor Public Schools. We read through the program website and methods, and while we noted that this implementation was less interdisciplinary than others we had come across, it would be beneficial to get insight into application in a local setting. We reached out to Professors Zint and Ibáñez and were directed to just Professor Zint as she was the main researcher into the curriculum aspect. She then directed us to her graduate student Jennifer Carman, who forwarded us a published paper assessing the results on student motivation and suggested we speak to Erin Burkett who was a project coordinator and now doing graduate work on policy and environment. 

We knew a teacher’s perspective would be extremely valuable, so we contacted a middle school science teacher from Ypsilanti, Ms. Kreiner, and a social studies teacher from Ann Arbor, Mr. Thobe to find how our proposed curriculum change in these two subjects would affect and would be perceived by teachers. Unfortunately, Mr. Thobe was not interested in meeting with us, but Ms. Kreiner ended up being a valuable consultation. We also wanted to get the perspective of a teacher educator and curriculum expert to see how implementing new curriculum would be received. We contacted Professor Betsy Davis from the School of Education at U-M and she agreed to meet with us. Additionally, we thought we should talk to a school administrator to see how any of our proposed solutions would affect the overall school environment for both teachers and students. We reached out to an Assistant Principal at Saline High School, Mr. Palka, and did not receive a reply.

After this initial process, proposed solutions, and search for consultations, we met with Professor Fahy to discuss our proposal for the mid-semester check in. In response to our proposal Professor Fahy suggested we look at a pilot program, how teachers would react to implementing an Earth/Environmental science graduation requirement, including those that are unionized, and seeing how the precedent examples explicitly dealt with pushback. He also suggested we refine our persona’s age. From this conversation, we reached out to Amy Frame, K-12 Program Manager at Ten Strands and received no reply. Additionally, we reached out to an Ann Arbor teachers’ union to source a response on how teacher’s jobs would be affected by these changes, and also, received no reply.

At this point in the process, we thought we were going to implement all three solutions in one proposal, provide curriculum K-12, require Earth/Environmental Science graduation requirement, and legally change professional development requirements for K-12 teachers. 

With our first consultation, Ms. Kriener, who has 20+ years of curriculum development experience, we considered making our professional development requirement a summer session because of the ways in which her school utilizes professional development. This made it apparent that eventually, state-wide assessments would have to include the new curriculum in order to ensure this material is taught. This conversation began our thinking about how the flexibility in middle school made it a good time to integrate this new curriculum, but we still were focused on K-12 work. When Ms. Kreiner shared with us the technological needs of a middle school science classroom, we realized we need to provide the resources to the school to implement the curriculum. 

Next, we took the considerations from our consultation with Ms. Kreiner into our conversation with Erin Burkett. Erin’s work revolved around starting the pilot program and budgeting the Ann Arbor climate change pilot. We discussed how one could go about assessing work in a pilot program and she worked to show us that pre- and post-test information was most pertinent to show how the program was proceeding. She recommended we talk to her friend that works on state assessment research to see how that would be implemented at the state level, as it is hard to test NGSS. Additionally, we talked about the details of gaining funding and how their project was a product of a grant and in-kind contribution. She showed us how costly some of the hands-on aspects of their program was, after we asked her about Ms. Kreiner’s suggestion, but also the pertinence of teacher training for these hands-on aspects. She also noted that one might need to consider what students would have foundational learning with NGSS and that it was important to implement further learning based on NGSS with grades that had this foundation. 

Our consultation with Betsy inspired many of the final touches on our first draft of our proposal, most notably the transition from focusing on K-12 to just middle school. In terms of professional development, she suggested pairing the teachers, which we ended up adopting into our first draft proposal, and team teaching, which we did not for feasibility and logistical reasons. She talked about how we could move toward a California-like funding model, emphasizing connections to organizations in Michigan to offset some of the state cost. This conversation shifted our idea of assessment away from state assessments and more toward assessment of the pilot program, which led us to not meet with Erin’s suggested contact. She suggested our assessments be both formative and summative. 

After meeting with all our initial consultations we sat down to make concrete decisions on what kind of process we were going to propose. Based on multiple perspectives and our original persona, we found that middle school was the age group most receptive to curriculum change. We found that elementary schools would need the foundational science skills they are currently gaining, and it would disrupt the college preparatory strict schedule of high schools. Ultimately, changing the earth science graduation requirement did not align with our ultimate goal of making climate change taught in a more interdisciplinary manner. We were still considering changing the law for professional development to require all teachers to utilize one of their days in an environmental focused activity, however, we realized this did not lend the curriculum specific support to teachers nor did it guarantee all would take this back into their classroom. 

While considering the funding aspect we made changes to our professional development requirement. While we would love to incentivize professional development both as an added day to the state-mandated five, for curriculum training, and as time social studies and science teacher can partner, by adding it to the current requirement and paying teachers additionally for that time, this was not the most economical choice for individual schools. After much deliberation and thought, we have come to a proposal that meets our goals in a way that makes sense for students, teachers, and communities in the state of Michigan. 

Our consultation with Amber inspired our addition of the action project as a way to assess student engagement and learning in line with the school's function of increasing civic engagement. She also provided examples of non-profit funding sources to explore further and how to fit our program in their niche requirements.

Stephanie helped us solidify our professional development requirement in having the teacher training unlock the curriculum, the pedagogical tool of training your trainers, and the use of experiential learning of the teaching processes best suited for the new curriculum.

While putting our finishing touches on the funding section, we discovered Michigan has an equivalent department to CalRecycle where we could allocate their current educational program funding to support our pilot curriculum because our goals align with their mission.

Author contributions:

Please delineate--in detail--who made what contributions to the process and to the finished proposal? Who took on which responsibilities in researching ideas, drafting language, etc.?

In general, we completed all of the assigned work together and in-person such as designing the media artifact, drafting all proposed solution, deciding on consultations, preparing for consultations, writing pov and persona, writing and refining proposed solutions, and writing final proposal and additional materials. Everything we posted to the MSC Site Proposal Page was drafted together and who was delegated to post it was arbitrary, but just reflected equal quantity of postings. The work that we divided was predominantly research based. Allison took the lead on researching state standards of learning in all topic areas to assess the current interdisciplinary nature of Michigan education. She also researched graduation requirements across states to explore the option of introducing a high school Earth/Environmental science requirement. Additionally, she found and spearheaded research on the California Education and Environment Initiative by reading through their processes and curriculum to assess the accessibility and replicability in Michigan. Elizabeth focused on NGSS and how its standards, specifically in Michigan, met our overall goals and found places where it fell short, which in part inspired our interest in this subject. She found the Ann Arbor Climate and Forests Program, which served as a model, and led to a consultation, for our final proposal. She also investigated professional development and Michigan and its requirements as well as how our proposal fits into current legal framework.


The sections below should comprise your final proposal language, submitted for consideration by your peers and potential inclusion in the MSC Platform.

Preambulatory clauses

WHEREAS.... According to The National Aeronautics and Space Administration, “Scientists have high confidence that global temperatures will continue to rise for decades to come, largely due to greenhouse gases produced by human activities.”; and

WHEREAS.... According to the Michigan Climate Action Network, “Our overheating climate is causing rapid change worldwide. Most warming is being felt at the poles, but its effects reach into the heartland and is disproportionately affecting the Great Lakes region.”; and

WHEREAS.... According to the Center on Education Policy, the purposes of public schooling include “To unify a diverse population,” “To prepare people for citizenship in a democratic society,” and “To improve social conditions.” We believe schools are not serving these purposes in the context of climate change education; and

WHEREAS....  Act 451 Section 380.1278b of the Revised School Code does not require earth or environmental science classes be taught via graduation requirements, therefore, middle school science standards are the only ensured area students will receive education regarding climate change; and

WHEREAS....  The Michigan Board of Education voted to adopt the Michigan Next Generation Science Standards November 10, 2015; and

WHEREAS.... The Michigan Board of Education voted to approve new social studies state standards June 11, 2019; and

WHEREAS…. The Department of Environment, Great Lakes & Energy’s (EGLE) Office of Climate and Energy “coordinate[s] Michigan's response to climate change across state departments and agencies, and provide[s] recommendations, guidance and assistance on climate change mitigation, adaptation and resiliency strategies...and work[s] with stakeholders to educate the public on the benefits of renewable energy sources as well as energy efficiency practices”; and

WHEREAS....The Education and Environmental Initiative Curriculum was adopted by the California State Board of Education in 2010 and provides California-specific K-12 science and social studies curriculum in line with statewide Environmental Principles and Concepts; and

WHEREAS.... Bill 7082 of repealed Section 10-16b of the general statutes as passed by the Senate and House of Representatives of Connecticut, states “The State Board of Education shall make available curriculum materials and such other materials as may assist local and regional boards of education in developing instructional programs pursuant to this section. The State Board of Education, within available appropriations and utilizing available resource materials, shall assist and encourage local and regional boards of education to include:.... (9) climate change consistent with the Next Generation Science Standards”; now, therefore, be it

    Operative clauses



1.  The Michigan Department of Education shall provide Michigan specific social studies and interdisciplinary science curriculum materials and supporting resources for local governing education bodies. 

2. The Michigan Department of Education will develop a pilot program in collaboration with EGLE's Office of Climate and Energy. The pilot program will begin with a select group of Michigan schools as a way to assess the feasibility, structures, and outcomes of implementing social studies and interdisciplinary science curriculum and the corresponding professional development. 

3. The state will organize a team that allocates resources, investigates the field of knowledge in this area, and develops the Michigan specific curriculum materials for 6th through 8th-grade classrooms. These materials shall align with the Next Generation Science Standards and the Social Studies State Standards as adopted by the state of Michigan. Materials will be allocated to the chosen schools through accessibility on a website portal that can be extended to all schools after the program is piloted.

4. Funding will be provided by EGLE’s current children’s educational endeavor budget in conjunction with nonprofit and for-profit organizations for the development of these materials.


5. Schools with grades 6-8 will apply to participate in the pilot program at no cost. The state-organized team will select diverse schools that vary in size, location, and socioeconomic status. 

6. To access the curriculum through the online portal, teachers will be required to complete an online module giving an overview of the curriculum and an in-person professional development session that teaches through experiential learning methods. In addition, teachers will be trained in ways to talk about climate change with both students and parents in a way that is constructive and respectful. Within this training, teachers will be coupled in a pair comprised of one science teacher and one social studies teacher to collaborate on specific subject material within the interdisciplinary curriculum that others may need support with. Schools in the program are recommended to continue the teacher partnerships throughout the school year.

7. Assessment of the pilot program’s progress will be conducted. Assessment of both students’ knowledge and interest and teacher’s perception of the feasibility and resource allocation of the program will be examined. All assessments will be provided in the online portal. At a minimum, a pre- and post-test of student knowledge and a survey to assess interest in the curriculum will be given. Additionally, surveys to assess teachers’ perceived relevance and feasibility of both curriculum and professional development will be given. To ensure unit by unit success, teachers will be required to fill out a survey of their specific experiences familiarizing themselves and teaching the curriculum after completing each unit. Finally, students will do a cumulative project utilizing their knowledge regarding climate change and social science material in relation to their own life and/or local community. These assessments will give insight into the types of modifications necessary to increase the scalability and effectiveness of the program. 


What are three reasonable arguments against this proposal?

1. As teachers have a large amount of material they need to teach to align with state standards, they may feel they do not have enough time to adequately learn the new curriculum or teach these materials. 

a. The added professional development and teacher partnership will allow teachers to become familiar with the curriculum and have a partner that is more knowledgeable in the other half of the subject material. Additionally, the material is created to meet all NGSS standards and provide the overall picture to climate change, thus extra time is not necessarily spent on climate change but is just a component of other lessons.

2. The State of Michigan may be concerned that their education budget does not allocate for state to fund development and assessment of this program.

a. In the case of California, many for-profit and nonprofit organizations financially supported the research and development of the new curriculum materials. 

b. The State of Michigan can model their materials after those created for the California Education and the Environment Initiative without having to start from scratch. 

c. EGLE's Office of Climate and Energy's mission aligns with the goals of our proposal and thus the burden of funding the program will not rest on the Department of Education alone. 

3. Some might not be satisfied with the lack of short-term returns of our proposal. Individuals may see climate change curriculum taking too long for children to become of voting age and impact policy or actionable items to mitigate its effects. They may see the funding of the pilot program as better spent on immediate action against climate change.

a. No change will be sustainable if upcoming generations are not invested in climate change justice.

b. Small-scale actions can have a big and long-term impact on changing actions that further the negative consequences of climate change. These actions can take place at any age. For example, informed purchasing choices can force corporations to utilize more sustainable production methods. 

c. Children will develop an analytical lens in their most formative years of life which will affect their perception and participation in the world for years to come.


Costs and funding:

What will your proposal cost (in direct expenses, lost tax revenue, lost economic opportunity, and/or non-monetary costs)? How will you pay for your proposed legislation? Where will/could the funding for your proposal come from?  Who might object to dedicating resources to your proposal (competing interests)?  

In order to properly develop these materials, the State would consult the California Education and the Environment Curriculum as well as a committee composed of curriculum consultants who would organize the subcontracting of materials which would include but is not limited to educators and scientists. Developing a new curriculum is a one-time cost, albeit large, however, any following costs to update will be minimal. Estimates from the Ann Arbor Climate and Michigan Forests Curriculum project outlined a cost of approximately $36,000 per year for two years to develop and implement their pilot program. This includes logistical costs for field program expenditures that were included in their program. While the California implementation does not include field studies, we recognize the scope of our proposal is wider, and therefore, costs may vary. Traveling to provide the in-person professional development would incur some cost, but as the program develops, those who previously underwent the training could become trainers themselves mitigating travel costs. 

The pay of the committee members would be funded by the state for this particular project. These materials could be distributed online, incurring minimal cost. Michigan could replicate the funding model of California where financial support was in part provided by CalRecycle's Office of Education and the Environment, and EGLE is Michigan’s corresponding office. 

The other part of the funding was provided by interested for-profit and nonprofit organizations whose values align with climate justice work. Donations and grants, such as through foundations who value education and climate change mitigation such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation or the National Science Foundation are possible funding sources. 

Those who hold positions of power in and around industries that would directly or indirectly benefit from the ways in which humans perpetuate climate change may not support allocating money to our proposal. Many of these people are intertwined with state and local governments. Additionally, those who see the funds as going to more immediate action against climate change, such as the implementation of alternative energy processes in public institutions, may object to funding for our proposal. 


These can include websites or other information you have found about the issue.

Adoption of the California Education and the Environment Initiative

Global Effects of Climate Change

Michigan-specific Effects of Climate Change

Purposes of Public Schools

Teacher Professional Development Requirements

Michigan High School Graduation Requirements

Adoption of NGSS in Michigan

History and Development of the California Education and Climate Change Curriculum

Connecticut Bill Legally Requiring Climate Change Materials and Teaching

Next Generation Science Standards

Social Studies State Standards

New Michigan Social Studies Standards approved

Climate Change and Michigan Forests program through U-M and Ann Arbor Schools

California Education and the Environment Initiative Curriculum Guide

Mi-STAR Michigan Science Teaching and Assessment Reform

Department of Environment, Great Lakes & Energy (EGLE) Office of Climate and Energy

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Total votes: 5