to competently teach (Abbasi, 2006; National Research Council, 2007; Storksdieck, 2006). Furthermore, the connection between science and society that is implied in climate change education aimed at changing people’s behavior makes the task of teaching and learning more difficult still (Gardner and Stern, 2008; Heimlich and Ardoin, 2008). Second, achieving the broad range of goals of climate change education requires a cross-disciplinary approach, blending education with the learning, social, behavioral, and economic sciences as well as earth systems science. Third, the myriad of federal agencies, nongovernmental organizations, and businesses invested in climate change education may duplicate efforts and waste limited resources without a forum for coordination, cooperation, and alignment of overall education strategies. Fourth, like evolution, climate change has become a highly politicized topic in the policy arena and in education, and people’s willingness to be educated or to learn depends on their attitude toward the issue itself (Gardner and Stern, 2008; Leiserowitz and Smith, 2010).
As one response to these challenges, Congress, in its 2009 and 2010 appropriation process, requested that the National Science Foundation (NSF) create a program in climate change education to provide funding to external grantees to improve climate change education in the United States. The Climate Change Education Partnership (CCEP) Program is part of a major investment of the federal government directed toward climate change education, involving a variety of players, including, among others, the National Science Foundation; the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA); the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA); the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the U.S. Departments of Agriculture, Education, and Energy; and the U.S. Geological Survey.
To support and strengthen these education initiatives, and in response to the 2009 congressional mandate connected to NSF’s funding for a climate change education program, the Board on Science Education of the National Research Council (NRC), in collaboration with the Committee on Human Dimensions of Global Change and the Division on Earth and Life Studies, created the Climate Change Education Roundtable. The roundtable provides a forum for dialogue between practitioners and experts in multiple disciplines relevant to climate change education. It facilitates collaboration across federal agencies and private organizations, helping to promote unique contributions and align overall education strategies.
The roundtable has funding to convene two workshops on issues of particular concern. At its first meeting, roundtable participants expressed