Transcript of the episode “Climate education: not just for science class”

[00:00:15] Amy H-L: I’m Amy Halpern-Laff. 

[00:00:16] Jon M: And I’m Jon Moscow. Welcome to Ethical Schools. Our guest today is Dr. Deb L. Morrison. Dr. Morrison is a research scientist at the University of Washington School of Education. She’s a learning scientist working in areas of climate and anti-oppression design-based research. Welcome, Deb! 

[00:00:34] Deb M: Good to be here.

[00:00:35] Jon M: We recently interviewed Katie Worth, author of “Miseducation: How Climate Change is Taught in America.” She spoke about many children being deprived of climate education altogether while others are intentionally or unintentionally misled, but she mentioned ClimeTime as one of the bright spots in climate change education. What is ClimeTime and what is it doing? 

[00:00:59] Deb M: ClimeTime is an awesome endeavor of community-based educators, school-based educators, scientists, climate scientists, business leaders, pretty much anybody you can think of, coming together to design and teach teachers about how to engage in climate science. And so it also involves curriculum development work, it involves building resources for educators, and it’s a Washington State legislatively funded effort. It’s in its fourth year now and was instigated by a number of different community members and supported by Governor Inslee. 

[00:01:33] Amy H-L: How was ClimeTime funded? 

[00:01:35] Deb M: Yeah. So it comes out of an ongoing budget line. Right now it’s $3 million a year. The very first year it was $4 million and it was a special requisition through the governor’s budget. But now every two years it’s renegotiated in the budget, but it’s a line item in the state budget. 

[00:01:52] Jon M: What does being a line item mean in practical terms for people who don’t know? 

[00:01:57] Deb M: Yeah. I didn’t really know either. That type of advocacy is not really in my mainstream, but basically what it means is that it’s continuous funding and they would have to actively take it out as opposed to every time it comes up for refunding, we have to advocate for putting it in. They would actually have to remove it. And so we’re careful. It has come up for renewal twice in the time that I’ve been working on the effort, and we’re careful to make sure that we can show what’s going on in the effort, communicate that clearly with both the Washington State community broadly and especially with our legislators, so that they really understand the value of this type of effort and help support educators and, through educators, help support youth to be able to have really high quality climate science education. 

And we’re actually finding originally the effort was geared at science teachers through the Next Generation Science Standards, but we’re actually finding more and more that a lot of educators are coming into the effort — social studies, teachers, English teachers. And it is a K-12 effort. So we have a lot of elementary teachers who are interdisciplinary. And so we’re actually finding, it’s not just science teachers anymore, and we’re starting to intentionally design more broadly. So we’re including things like CTE, which is career and technical education. Those folks are also becoming involved in the effort and so it’s broadening and mushrooming out in really interesting and emergent ways, which is fabulous. But now I’m like maybe we need $10 million a year. We’ll see if we can get more.

[00:03:32] Jon M: As you talk about and teach climate change education, how does climate justice fit into that? What does it mean? And how does it show up in teaching? 

[00:03:43] Deb M: Yeah, it’s interesting. Justice is such a broad issue in education alone and also in environmental and climate change issues alone. So when you intersect the two, all different aspects of justice come into play. So in schooling, we think about issues of racial justice and gender justice and ability justice, in how students access learning and what learning looks like, what learning activity looks like, where it occurs, what tools are used, all of those things with language. It’s in all of those types of things.

But then when you’re thinking about climate justice learning, you also have to start thinking about what phenomena do we start to investigate? What matters to kids in their own community? How do we contextualize learning so that it actually reflects the deep histories of practice and activity in those locations? How do we also leverage and learn about the histories of environmental and climate justice across the United States and across the world and how it can help foster solutions, new solutions in local place? How do we bring the people who are doing this work so they voice the efforts in their own words and with their own community members and then mentor youth into that work in community? That’s part of justice too, because part of educational and climate justice is ensuring that we have intergenerational learning going on and intergenerational activity. So we want youth not to just learn about climate. We want them to engage in action that’s relevant to them, relevant to their communities. And that shifts the world in their communities in ways that are needed and defined by them and by those that they work with. 

And maybe one other thing to add about climate justice specifically is, you know, there’s a long history of climate justice work in different places around the world. And the principles of climate justice that were defined in 2002 internationally, they’re called the Bali Principles of Climate Justice because they were defined in Bali, Indonesia. And those principles of climate justice, they sit on top of a set of principles called the Principles for Environmental Justice that were defined in the United States by the first People of Color Summit in 1992. And we have a lot to be proud of in the work that has been done here in and with community

[00:06:05] Amy H-L: Actually, what you’re saying brings to mind a conversation we had with Zoe Weil. Are you familiar with Zoe and her Solutionary program? 

[00:06:16] Deb M: Yeah. And that mentorship idea, like we want to be mentoring youth. We know from research that the best thing that we can do, you know, when was it? It was Malcolm Gladwell, that book, “Outliers.” People are not individually exceptional on their own. They’re exceptional because they have networks of mentors and people in community that are supporting them, that are guiding them, that are providing them resilience, right, in the face of oppression, in the face of struggle. And that’s what we want to do. We want to provide youth with as many networks and experiences as they can possibly get, to be able to see themselves in the work, first of all, right. So it’s not all just like white people in front of them and doing science or doing climate action, but that it’s like a complex set of fabric of society engaged in this work, and that they see that they connect into individuals who are able to help guide them in doing more of that work.

And that’s the best type of learning, when we actually bring community into schools, bring kids out into community. I think of it as perforating the school wall. So how do we actually make it so that that learning occurs all across society, so that it’s not just youth learning, but it’s all of us learning with our youth.

[00:07:36] Jon M: So this sounds as though it overlaps greatly both with project-based learning and with action civics.

[00:07:42] Deb M: Yes, absolutely. I think there is so much to be learned from all of those efforts that have been ongoing for a long time. And the environmental education move too that’s been having youth learn in place. And many, many of the strands of work there are embedded in Indigenous histories of learning, where you’re learning through mentorship and apprenticeship and in place. 

Yeah. The civic action component is always very tricky for a science. I laugh because so many times I’ve been in professional learning environments with science teachers and they get very worried about talking about action learning with youth in science contexts. And I think that challenge, and I think many have found that as they’ve researched science education in particular and climate science is there’s a nervousness that when we start talking about action or civics inside science learning that we are going to make science learning political, or that we are going to indoctrinate our students.

And so there’s a worry about that because there’s this idea that science is objective. And science isn’t objective, first of all. That’s just not true. And there’s lots of science philosophers, Sandra Harding, others, who would argue that we’re all human, positional. We all have skin in the game as we work and learn. But then there’s also this issue of, as we’re learning science, we’re again, we’re all positioned somehow, right. Why are we learning? What are we learning? Those are questions that have power in them, that have histories in them. And so we actually have to ask those questions. And we really shouldn’t be asking those questions as solo teachers. We should be asking them with our community, with the kids that we serve and the families that we serve. And we should be designing, learning with our community to help them. When we start doing that, we start realizing that climate science is in everything. Even in the most conservative district you can imagine, out in middle America, an agricultural setting, which is often the one used, I can think about designing, learning with teachers in that setting. And that agriculture is a really important topic for them. And as soon as you start talking about agriculture, you start talking about the weather. You start talking about extreme weather, shifting climates, crop rotations, all of those things are climate influenced topics. And so you get into it no matter what.

So it’s more about how we support our educators and support our community to understand that, and then really work to provide a lot of information for teachers and students to make up their own mind about what action to take, as opposed to telling students, “Take that action!”. We actually want students to inquire about, based on evidence, what is the best action they should take. 

[00:10:34] Amy H-L: So we’re really talking about science as a process that touches everything, right?

[00:10:40] Deb M: Yeah, absolutely. And it’s, it’s interesting. Cause you know, when, when I was in school, I learned science as the scientific method, and it was the way the process of science was reduced to a fact, like learn these five steps and that’s the science, right. And when I moved, I was a scientist for 10 years before I moved into education, and as a scientist, that is so not the way the world works as a scientist. You actually, it’s not linear. Everybody thinks that you just start at your question and you move through to your conclusion, but that’s not true at all. Like I found in my, work, there was no instrument for the kind of stuff I was doing. I had to create my own instruments and I had to reach out to other people who were doing similar work in other places in the world. And like, how did you do that? Like, oh, okay. And so, like, there was engineering involved in it. There were iteration cycles on multiple places inside my work before I even got to, like, an experimental study. And so, you know, that’s fascinating. That process is fascinating. 

And if we taught science the way that science actually works, which is what NGSS is trying to NGSS is the Next Generation Science Standards. They came out in 2012 and they really embrace that idea, that are these deep practices in learning, and that if we engage in those practices, we are way closer to authentic science, in learning it, than if we just start throwing facts at kids. And for topics like climate science, that’s actually really important because we really want to engage kids in the practices of what it means to understand climate science and understand climate change, and then mix that in with data on social sciences, so that we understand what the differential impacts are of climate in different locations, how they’re woven into histories in place that have to do with oppression and colonization and racism, sexism, and all the isms. You know, that is part of the dataset that we can analyze through inquiry, giving students the tools to be able to critically look at data, to be able to critically understand their histories. Those are powerful, powerful tools for us as a society.

[00:13:02] Jon M: I’m just curious. You mentioned as an example of conservative environment agriculture and how you would start talking about the weather and things like that. How would a teacher approach those kinds of issues in say a community that’s heavily dependent on oil and gas industries or fossil fuel based, what are some of the ways that you can engage the community where it doesn’t just become, you know, this side or that side?

[00:13:29] Deb M: Yeah, that’s probably one of the most challenging ones right there, because people’s fear sort of starts to dominate. When you start talking about something that’s really related to their livelihood, and families don’t necessarily want to sit at the dinner table and be in conflict with their children, who are interrogating their life choices. And especially when their life choices are limited because the place has only one or two employers. Like that is a real challenge, but the reality is that most people working in those sectors, they also know that there’s transitions happening in those sectors. So denial alone isn’t going to help us.

And so one of the ways to teach about that is to think, how do we teach about economic transitions? How do we think and work with students around what our green energy economies, and what would that look like? And what are the pros and cons of different pathways? Because it’s not a given that all alternative energy sources to fossil fuels are created equal or are good in every location or carbon-free. That’s just not true at all. And so getting students to actually look and analyze different choices as they go forward helps us make really sound decisions as a society instead of just jumping at the next shiny penny. And that’s what we want. We want students to make really well-informed decisions about what careers they’re going to push through. We want them to think about how they’re going to actually take care of their own communities and foster new economies in those places that are important to them and that have history. 

And we are seeing that some locations, as we’re transitioning economies, might be moving away from coal mining and moving toward other types of economies, like information technology economies, where, because of the way that we have infrastructure now, and some communities are pursuing infrastructure supports like really deeply, that you’re now able to telecommute from places that are beautiful, in like the Smoky Mountains region of the United States, where before, the infrastructure wasn’t there. And the only economy available was mining or logging or other types of things like that. And so there are alternative pathways forward, and we do want to offer youth the opportunity, especially in rural areas, to stay in rural communities because you know, they have families and history is there and that should be a possibility.

[00:15:54] Amy H-L: When you speak, it reminds me of the lack of linearity in history, as well as science. I’ve actually been reading this book, “The Dawn of Everything,” Graeber and Wengrow and, you know, we tend to think, or we tend to teach history, as well, as being linear. It’s not. And I think that that ties into what you say in terms of looking at science and looking at the way different communities and historical periods have interacted with one another. 

[00:16:28] Deb M: I actually think about it. I definitely, I learned things as linear as well, but now, and for the last like 20 years, for sure. I’ve, I’ve started thinking about things as systems, right. So one of the big conceptual domains that we need to understand when we think about climate is systems thinking. And that is not just about ecological systems. It’s about socioecological systems. So what are these webs of human relationships with each other? Human relationships with the environment? How have they shifted over time? 

And I have the luxury of having a geography degree. My first degree is in geography. And I think I you randomly run into geographers in locations, and they all are systems thinkers. And I think that it’s because we start to see these connections between how people have moved across places and spaces in history and how they think about the environment as resources, or they think about the environment in relationship, like as kin in some cultures, and like how those differences in values that underlie how we work with each other, how we work with the environment, actually change a lot of our sort of possible futures. And I think that as humanity at large, we’re running into that situation now, where we have these big global dilemmas that we need to solve. 

They actually ask us to interrogate our values, to look deeper than just this one moment or this one place. But to look at this one place in the context of the world and like, how are we making decisions about our everyday life? What values do we care about that are going to do better going forward? And one of the big ones is around like, do I need this next thing that I want to buy? You know, the, the constant expansionist economy is not possible on a finite planet if we really care about justice. And so we actually have to ask ourselves, do we really care about justice? And if we do, then we really need to think carefully. Do we really need that one more thing? Can we do without it so that others can have the basics that they need? 

[00:18:44] Amy H-L: Yeah. Census. So you’re talking about the doughnut economy.

[00:18:47] Deb M: Totally. Yeah. Yeah. I’m a fan of that. And like, you know, it’s a logical step as we start to hit capacity on the planet that we actually have to think that way. 

[00:19:00] Jon M: For those who are not familiar, what the doughnut economy?

[00:19:02] Deb M: Just that idea. And I am certainly not the economist to explain it to you, but basically just that idea that we can’t have expansion economy, endlessly. Expansionist capitalism for instance, is just not a possibility to ever increase in the light of justice, because what that eventually would mean on a finite planet is you’re taking from somebody so somebody else can continue to get rich. And a doughnut economy is a little bit more about the idea of, “That’s it. It’s a finite system. So whatever’s in the system is circulating in it and you need to think carefully about what the values are of how that’s circulating.” And there’s a lot of different people really starting to think about that. Like, we’ve heard so much more about that type of economics in the last five years than I’ve ever heard about it before. So yeah, it’s hopeful, I think, to think about what that looks like in the context of the decisions that we’re making as we transition our economies away from fossil fuels. 

[00:19:57] Amy H-L: So you’ve spoken about society, technology, and science as being an interdisciplinary field. Could you expand? 

[00:20:06] Deb M: Yeah, I definitely think about it that way. And it is in contrast, of course, to the way that we often see these things taught in our K-12 system right now because, especially at the sort of middle school, high, more high school level, we see things still siloed. Even in science, we see chemistry and physics and biology, right. But really we’re, and for the past probably about 25 years, in science education research, we’ve seen a lot of work around something called socioscientific issues. And we’re seeing that expand more and more now. And basically, it’s the idea that as we teach science, we should teach social issues. So economics, politics, human relationships, psychology. And as we teach social issues in the social studies classes, in English, we should actually teach the science because we’re no longer in a situation where say you can specialize in social sciences without knowing any of the science.

We’re hitting a crisis moment for humanity. Everyone’s basic knowledge needs to include some aspect of climate science. And we need that because we need people to viscerally understand that all of our futures are tied up in the choices we make. And those choices we make are coming down to these basic chemical facts that we’re facing. And at the same time, we need scientists to understand issues of justice. Because as they promote different technological solutions, as they promote different ideas, if they are not working in just, collective, collaborative ways with communities to define these solutions, the reality of psychology is they’re not going to get implemented. And they’re certainly not going to be just. You’re going to have solutions that potentially exacerbate issues of injustice. And so we really need all people starting to learn across these different historical silos.

[00:22:05] Jon M: Can you give any examples of schools that are actually doing this kind of cross-subject interdisciplinary teaching? What I’m thinking about as you’re talking, what it’s bringing to mind, is STEM and the idea of people trying to integrate science, technology, engineering, and math. But it sounds as though you’re obviously also talking about integrating it with social studies, English, humanities, and so forth, right? For our audience, many of whom are teachers or professors in teacher ed programs, what would that look like in a school? How would you actually go about getting teachers to start integrating all these things and getting out of their silos? 

[00:22:54] Deb M: So we put together a special issue for connected science learning in September and October this year for the National Science Teachers Association Journal, and it’s available online. It gives, I think, five, I want to say, examples from different locations across the US of this type of learning. Across different grade levels, too, because a lot of people don’t think you can do this with early youth and that’s just not true. 

There’s something called the Climate Action Childhood Network that provides examples of place-based learning for young children that are all different examples. So things like studying water and, as a third grader, learning about water and learning how water is moving through the world, how we’re using it, how it might need to be conserved, what conservation means in the context of water. Okay. Those types of building blocks of knowledge are teachable at young levels and are age appropriate. Put it that way. We don’t want to talk about climate change as a devastating topic to very young children. That is so inappropriate. We need to really think about how we’re teaching at different ages so that kids always feel they have agency to do something in their space. But then when we get into high school, some of the best examples are coming out of places like Chicago and LA and, of course, Washington State in the ClimeTime effort. And so in Chicago, for instance, Daniel Morales-Doyle and David Stovall were at the Social Justice High School. And Chicago has been going on for decades now of really intersections, transdisciplinary work, youth being able to define their issues in place around thinking about, you know, what works and, and those issues are often framed in environmental justice, but every issue right now, no matter how you’re framing, it touches on climate justice in some way.

And so kids are being able to look at Supersite funds, at local environmental hazards in their communities, understand it, dig into the chemistry of it, dig into the biology that’s being impacted. Think about how the local city councilors are zoning for that in a particular area. Why is it always in the Black and brown neighborhoods? Why isn’t it in the rich, white neighborhoods? Issues of redlining that have gone on historically that caused neighborhoods to be segregated, and then like suggest things going forward about how local decisions should be made. And if a different jurisdiction, if it’s a federal or state jurisdiction, how do they do that? How do they ask their elected officials to change things and who can they talk to to do that? And so teaching all of those different components from the inquiry of the science phenomenon that they’re seeing in their environment to how they actually change it socially, that whole arc of learning is actually really an important civic arc. And we historically have taught them all as separate pieces, but learning them together is so much more powerful. And it’s what I think of as learning for and in action, that we’re not teaching them separately. We’re teaching them together. And we’re not saying to the kids, “Go and study this problem so that you like solve our civic problem.” We’re actually letting them inquire about what they’re interested in inquiring about, and then they’re digging into possible solutions, but they’re making evidenced, reasoned decisions about how to engage. 

[00:26:28] Amy H-L: What does this collaboration that you’ve spoken about among colleges in Washington and Oregon look like? 

[00:26:35] Deb M: Yeah. So there are a number of different efforts going on across Washington State. Heather Price, I know, is one of the leaders in that effort in the colleges. There are two different efforts going on in Washington State related to that. One is among the community colleges. The community colleges have gotten together and have funding. I believe it’s National Science Foundation funding. And they have funding to look across all the different courses that they’re teaching and think about how to integrate issues of climate justice into the different courses. And that’s really powerful because many of the sort of technical certification programs go on in colleges. Colleges are steps for many youth, particularly youth who are historically marginalized, into universities, because they’re are a less expensive pathway to get into universities. And so they’re offering a lot of different opportunities for youth to be motivated and learn about climate justice as they’re learning about how to become a dental technician or how to become a mechanic, because all of those areas also have issues of climate justice in them. And so people can start to explore that in the context of what they’re personally interested in, in their careers or their spaces that they’re looking at. And so the effort is really to bring together college-level instructors to think in very pragmatic ways about how their courses could include different components of climate justice. Not to say, ” Let’s design a singular course about climate justice,” though that probably will happen, too. How to weave it into all of the existing courses. All of society needs to learn about climate, climate work, and justice work. We’re actually providing those opportunities inside the learning that’s going on at every stage of people’s careers.

The other one that’s happening in Washington State, just this past summer, I guess, in the spring it got funded, but it just started this past summer. Our institute at the University of Washington, the Institute of Science and Math Education, got a special legislative proviso similar to the ClimeTime proviso and we got a special proviso that provides funding for pre-service teacher education. And so that’s bringing together all of the university level teacher educators, science teacher educators, and others. So social studies, English, whoever’s interested, special education, is pulling them together for a collaboration to think about how do we actually support teachers, not only in-service, like ClimeTime, but pre-service. So how do we weave it into learning at the base level of becoming a teacher about how to talk about climate change education? And that’s the only one that I know of in the nation.

[00:29:13] Amy H-L: Do curricula around climate change incorporate the climate and social aspects of factory farming?

[00:29:20] Deb M: Yeah. That’s a good question. That’s actually a two part question because you’re assuming there’s curricula on climate change. So we’re working on that part. A lot of the challenge we face with curriculum and climate change is if we produce curriculum on a broad scale with, and some companies are working on that for textbook kind of base curriculum or online curriculum on climate change, it’s not contextualized for the local area, and really the best climate change education addresses local phenomena. And so what we’ve been doing is we’ve been actually working to develop resources so that even if you do have sort of standardized curriculum, you’re implementing locally. There are ways that we can support you in developing and adding in local phenomena to connect locally. So that that’s one thing about that.

And so then to that end, there is some curriculum that has talked about agriculture, particularly about alternative methods, and in questioning issues of industrial farming. In terms of the big one that gets named is farming, because cattle farming produces a lot of methane, but there’s other forms of farming that also are very problematic. There’s some curricula I’ve seen around, soil chemistry. So if you’re, if you’re not properly tilling your fields and shifting crops in particular ways, you actually degrade the microbial population of the soil. And it turns out that microbes are an incredible sink for carbon. And so if we’re really doing healthy crop rotation and regenerative agricultural practices, we can actually be pulling carbon out of the atmosphere just through soil biota.

And so that study is also in–that idea is in curriculum as well., Not necessarily in big mainstream curricular products yet. It’s. But it’s, it’s not fully there yet. I have seen a number of units that are like open educational resources, OER resources that are starting to come out in local efforts as people are building new resources, thinking about resources, especially for people who are not in Washington State.

[00:31:28] Jon M: Two things. One is that we would love you to send us listings of things you think would be very valuable to people that we can just post on the website along with the episode. But also, are there any that you would just off the top of your head suggest that people might want to start with for being really good sources of info?

[00:31:47] Deb M: Yeah, for sure. So I’m one of the editors for the STEM Teaching Tools Collection, and that’s a collective effort that draws from people all across the nation. It’s a National Science Foundation funded effort. We’ve built over the years tools that cross a lot of different topics, right, tons of resources around climate change, around teaching controversial topics, teaching about political related issues, how to handle that. We’ve just recently created a new area on the STEM Teaching Tools site called Climate Learning. And we’re contemplating actually launching something called Climate Tools. Teachers that are social studies teachers wouldn’t think to come to the STEM teaching tools site, so we’re thinking about creating some resources that are more interdisciplinary for folks. But all of our resources actually are being accessed by teachers in other disciplines. So that’s really helpful.

The site is incredibly helpful for folks. The New Jersey Department of Education and the Washington Department of Education both have climate learning tools and resources posted on their state Department of Education websites which are fabulous. And a shoutout to Climate Generation in Minnesota. They have been doing work like this for a long time and their resources are heavily teacher centered resources and they’re fabulous. And then the last one, I would say probably the most longest standing one, is the Climate Learning and Energy Awareness Network. It’s called CLEAN. And they provide both scientist and teacher vetted resources that are really helpful. Actually, there’s a new group called Subject to Climate that started and I’ve looked through their resources and they’re fabulous, too. They have a lot more case study and narrative resources in their collection, which is really helpful. 

[00:33:32] Amy H-L: Is there anything we haven’t yet discussed that you’d like to add?

[00:33:35] Deb M: You know, there is one thing. I was just talking to a colleague of mine about coming in to talk with you and I realized that in thinking about school-based learning and education, I often forget about the larger lens of work that I do. And so at the international and national level, I’m extremely involved in something called Action for Climate Empowerment, and education is nested within that work. It’s one of the six elements of Action for Climate Empowerment. And I think that it’s really important that we constantly think about that. Action for Climate Empowerment is a program from the United Nations that is part of the original framework on Convention for Climate Change that said that education training, public awareness, public access to information, public participation, and international cooperation were all critical elements to further climate action. They said that 28 years ago, but nobody really fully implemented that. And we’re just starting to see, in the last five years, countries like Ghana, Chile, Austria starting to actually implement on a whole nation level programs for Action for Climate Empowerment. 

And just last year, through an incredible civil society effort, I helped write the document that’s called the National Strategic Planning Framework for ACE, Action for Climate Empowerment, for the US, and it was an incredible civil society effort of dialogues and conversations across the nation that was synthesized into a report that helped get us to national focal points in the Federal Government to steer this program.

And at the UN just last month, the United Nations meeting in Glasgow, the new action program, it’s called the Glasgow ACE Program, was signed. And we are now working with the focal points of the US to think about how to implement that. And that’s going to include, potentially, funding for climate change education in the nation. It’ll include efforts of how to make more coherent training programs for green economies, how to work with government and business and scientists to understand issues of justice with people like Dr. Robert Bullard and Dr. Beverly Wright and Dr. Daniel Wildcat, those folks who have been long standing in environmental justice work, and it’ll bring together those networks and communities in a way that I think will just jump us forward so much faster than what we have been doing, which is kind of the whack-a-mole method of trying to deal with this and not particularly efficient.

[00:36:15] Jon M: When you say focal points, that there are two focal points in the Government, for example, what does that mean? 

[00:36:22] Deb M: Yeah, it’s a UN term, and it basically just means that every nation supposed to have at least one focal point for ACE. And the idea is that it’s the person that you can sort of point at and say, “Hey, you’re responsible to make sure this thing’s happening in your country.” The United States has two. We have one that’s in the State Department, Olivia Urbanski, who’s in the State Department, works with John Kerry’s team and she is responsible for the international cooperation and then negotiations piece internationally. So she sat at the negotiations table for the Glasgow work program. And the other one is domestic. His name is Frank Leopold and he works with, NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and he is really responsible for thinking how this program will roll out in the nation, and he’s coordinated across the various different agencies in government. Just this past year, he did a full assessment, looking at how ACE actually exists already in the government and how to actually improve it across programs. So we’re really excited to have those relationships and build on them and think really carefully about how this doesn’t get just reduced to education, because education is one piece of the larger puzzle for all of society, but how we can actually leverage what we know from education and from learning theory more broadly to make climate empowerment work.

[00:37:38] Jon M: This has been really amazing. Thank you , Dr. Deb L. Morrison of the University of Washington. 

[00:37:41] Deb M: Yeah, thanks so much for having me. And I really look forward to listening to so many others. I know you had, Katie Worth, so I’m excited to hear about that, too. Thank you. 

[00:37:49] Amy H-L: And thank you listeners. If you enjoyed this podcast, please share it with a friend or colleague. Subscribe wherever you get your podcasts and give us a rating or review. This helps others to find the show. Check out our website,, for more episodes and articles, and to subscribe to our monthly emails. We post annotated transcripts of our interviews to make them easy to use in workshops or classes.

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