Last fall IAS faculty member Jennifer Atkinson launched the Existential Toolkit for Climate Educators discussion series, a project supported by the Rachel Carson Center to help climate experts and activists share their research and teaching strategies with audiences around the world. Working with Dr. Sarah Jaquette Ray, author of A Field Guide to Climate Anxiety, and Dr. Elin Kelsey, author of Hope Matters: Why Changing the Way We Think Is Critical to Solving the Environmental Crisis, Atkinson's group brings together an international community of scholars, educators and climate justice leaders each month to explore the emotional impact of climate disruption, and how we can help students navigate the long emergency ahead. Atkinson noted that with feelings of eco-grief, nihilism, and climate anxiety on the rise, educators across disciplines need resources to help students develop the emotional resilience and existential tenacity to stay engaged in climate solutions.
Each discussion in the series features a different theme and facilitator, allowing participants to share and develop new practices, resources, pedagogical tools, and research. Upcoming winter sessions will include topics like “Climate Anxiety, Privilege, and Race in the Environmental Classroom,” "New ideas for telling climate change stories,” and “Fear Emotions and Climate Change." Last fall's lineup featured sessions on “Supporting the youth struggle for climate justice,” “Play in Climate Activism,” "Mindfulness and Compassion," and more. The full schedule can be seen here.
The goal of Atkinson’s team is to build an interdisciplinary toolkit for effective teaching in the age of climate disruption, and create opportunities to collaborate within an international scholarly community. Atkinson is currently working with Sarah Jaquette Ray to develop a book tentatively titled An Existential Toolkit for the Climate Generation.
The Existential Toolkit project welcomes participants from activist traditions, environmental humanists and psychologists, ESS educators, and researchers/educators from any other discipline engaged in difficult issues like biodiversity loss, climate change, and environmental injustice. To join the discussion series, please contact Atkinson at firstname.lastname@example.org.