A STEAM approach to climate change education has the potential to develop the conceptual understanding, skills, and most importantly, values and attitudes in favour of individual climate actions that lead to field-level changes. STEAM, the interdisciplinary acronym of Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Humanities, and Mathematics, draws on the innate complexity of reality and posits students in authentic contexts with both hands-on and minds-on problem-solving experiences.
An example in STEAM-enabled climate change education could be measuring and predicting air flow inside residential flats, in order to devise smart air-conditioning plans to save electricity and other incurred environmental costs of the neighbourhood. The creation of workable artefact like this requires substantial communication, collaboration, critical thinking, and creativity input.
Overlapping the interests of individuals and the community, on one hand, offers the occasions of real-life application; on the other hand, helps the spatial and terrestrial formation of meanings in students, making climate actions more personally relevant and beneficial. STEAM-enabled climate change education, highlighting on the mandatory interdisciplinary physical, cognitive and mental engagement, allow students to judge, do and solve problems ubiquitous in the field by developing their 21st century skills, competency and mastery.
These can result in the following outcomes:
|Knowledge and values domains||Adequate specific academic training for the definition of a personal position and arising challenges.|
|Knowledge and skills domains||The expertise to possess, share and generate knowledge at disposal.|
|Knowledge, values, skills and attitudes domains||The motivation and ability for high-quality implementation of actions.
The compliance to established standards and criterion in their expertise.
|Values and attitude domains||The psychosocial quality to work proactively with self-confidence.|
|Knowledge, values, skills and attitudes domains||The highest degree of readiness to inspire the uninspired.|
STEAM-enabled climate change education allows students to discover interdependencies of stakeholders, unfold the values of actions, and refine their understanding of anthropogenic climate change and their stakes. After continuous collective inquiry, reflection, deliberation, and experimentation processes, students are likely to be rewarded extrinsically. It can be upward academic, social or occupational ascendancy in STEAM- or climate- related fields, given youth advocacy of the field is in prevalence these days and also in the foreseeable future. In short, STEAM-enabled climate change education can grant students the knowledge of action possibilities, boost their confidence in their own influence, and heighten their willingness to act, known as Action Competence. These shall eventually be translated to higher individuality, responsibility, and practicality in humanistic climate actions, which can ultimately for the common good.
As an ending note, it may not be sensible anymore to merely demand students to laboriously swallow and recite loads of facts in climate change education as in other areas, even if this can construct, hopefully, a concrete foundation of knowledge in students.
Our planet earth is too complex and too dynamic – learning about it can take decades for individuals to be knowledgeable and competent enough to confer real impact. Meanwhile, not only our planet earth, we ourselves cannot wait for that long too. If we do not make our students learn how to act meaningfully now, can they have the know-hows sufficient to hold tight their opportunities, and not to have their own interests exploited by the foreign entities, both intentionally and unintentionally, when the foreign entities come in and take action for themselves? This piece sees and is also implicitly critical of the social injustice the current world was built on.
By subtly calling on an highly interdisciplinary, action-oriented systemic transformation in climate change education, it is hoped that a more holistic picture of the field can be painted for everyone, so that it can prepare more of us to withdraw from the factory-model of education practised for over a century.