December 6, 2019
By: Dr. Deb Morrison, University of Washington COP25 Delegation

COP25: Moving Towards Informed Action

I’ve never been to a COP meeting before, but like many in the field of climate change, I’ve been working on this issue for most of my life.

In reflecting on what I think attending a COP meeting can do to change the devastating course we are on as a global community, I have been thinking a lot about my hopes and goals for now and the future that have developed from my past experiences.

The first reason I’m attending the COP is to both learn from others and keep central the issue of climate justice. As we work towards various climate change mitigation and adaptation solutions — rooted in scientific innovations or/or social engineering — we need to not leave any communities behind.

I hope and work for a world where all have real opportunities to participate in a green economy, all have a right to a healthy environment and safe living conditions, and all have a quality education that helps them make decisions around the complex interactions of energy, climate, and healthy ecosystems. We can learn the most about such work through respectful collaborations with indigenous and historically marginalized communities, as they are frontline to changing environments and as such have been adapting with fewer resources and incredible resilience for decades. However, to do this, we all need to take a humble stance of learner, offering what we know without expectation of gaining something back and deeply listening when learning is shared. We each have a role in the world and can take action based on that role.

As a learning scientist, locally elected conservation trustee, and parent, I have a responsibility to act to help others understand what is happening and what we can do about it; to change how we are currently doing things in my local space; and to raise children who have hope for the future and know what they can do now and going forward to mitigate and adapt to the world we have created.

I am excited to see changes in how education can support equity of localized learning and action through the work I have had the honor of participating in, both nationally in the U.S. (the learning from which often finds its way to research papers or STEM Teaching Tools) and locally here in the Salish Sea (spanning both Washington state, U.S. with ClimeTime initiative and British Columbia, and Canada with the ṮEṮÁĆES Climate Action Project).

This work changes what we think of as education — learning that isn’t confined to the classroom but instead moves into the community, policy spaces, and businesses.

It involves action on the part of youth, families, community members, business people, elected officials, and leaders of all kinds. We no longer have the luxury of time and thus must ensure ALL are learning in place as frequently as possible to innovate and motivate the changes we know need to occur.

One of my key goals for the COP25 meeting is to connect with those in the global education, communication, and outreach community (ECOS) and help facilitate the discussions needed over the next year to center international efforts and funding on climate justice focused and action oriented education efforts globally. We should be drawing on what we know and the resources we already have within education (eg. CLEAN; Drawdown; Young Voices for the Planet) to help move others towards informed action.

I have often heard people are centered on the climate deniers, or struggling with despair, but I choose to center on hope. I focus on those already acting and amplify their voices. These voices of action in place allows me to envision how change can occur and give me a sense of solidarity to the work that is happening in my own contexts.

I concern myself most with those who want to act but don’t know how. I help them engage in meaningful collaboration and pose the question: What can you (as an individual, within your institution, as a citizen in your community) do differently in your sphere of influence to work towards an equitable and sustainable future acknowledging our current changing climate and its impacts?

In going into COP25 I am seeking these bright points in our world to name and describe their work to others so that we can all learn from that hope….and act.

Dr. Deb Morrison collaborates with those involved in K-16 education to design equitable learning experiences for students and teachers, primarily within science education. Deb is currently at the University of Washington’s Institute of Science and Math Education where she is engaged work that spans local to global scales in areas of education, communication, and outreach, particularly to do with climate change. Her research is grounded in theories of abolition, de-colonialism, transformative learning, design-based research, and action research.