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Climate Leadership Now

18. Teaching climate leadership online? Here are some favorite exercises.

Hunt for Oil (Original In-Person Version from The Lead for the Planet Handbook; Online Version Below)
Length: 30-45 minutes


How much oil do we have on the planet? How much do we use? Assessment of oil supply typically depends on whom you ask. In this exploration, the class will look for currently recoverable reserves of oil on the planet. To be "currently recoverable," oil must be said to exist in a particular place, and it must be both technically and economically recoverable. 

Working in pairs, scour the internet for opinions about how much oil is left on the planet. Then, using current statistics on world oil usage available at the EIA (Energy Information Administration of the US government), calculate how long that oil will last the world.

Share your calculations and sources with the class (as on a white board or electronic document) and describe your results.


The class compares their results and evaluates both the sources and the probable quality of their information.  Introduce anecdotal information on oil availability in the future if you find any.

What are the current consequences of oil depletion? What ae the likely future consequences?

Learning Objectives:

Identify sources that provide information on fossil fuels.

Assess the credibility of those sources.


Hunt for Oil (For Online Courses)

How much oil is there left in the world?

The online version of a short paper written by a small group.

1.     Research and write this short paper for your professor:

In a small group to which you will be assigned, read about Practices 3 and 4 in Lead for the Planet and view Scott, Jared P. (2016). The Age of Consequences. (On the impacts of climate change on national security and global sustainability. 80 minutes.)

Use the sources provided there and other sources you identify to answer these two questions:

How much oil is left worldwide and how long is it likely to last given consumption patterns? (Show your math.)
What is the current strategic position of the United States with regard to oil resources and energy depletion?
Write a 750- to 1000-word summary of your findings with at least eight references.

Choose one group member to submit your MS Word document to your professor using Turnitin.

2.     Post a summary of your findings to the class discussion board:

In 250- to 300-words, each group should state the number of barrels of oil they believe are left in the ground and their estimate of how long they think the oil will last.

Show all of your sources, describe why you think your set of sources represents a variety of perspectives, and reflect on how you chose the numbers that entered into your final calculation.

What standards did your group use to evaluate the sources?

What group process led you to your final decision?

You will not be able to see your classmates' comments until you make your initial post. At that point, review the class's findings (from their posted summaries) on how much oil is left. Consider Macalister (2016) and react to these findings as if you were an oil company strategizing for the next 100 years (which is part of what they do, in reality). Post your strategy for the class.

Reference: Macalister, T. (2016, May 21). Green really is the new black as Big Oil gets a taste for renewablesLinks to an external site.. The Guardian.


En-Roads for Online Courses
Using the En-Roads interactive climate simulation, anyone can draw on recent scientific data and modeling to predict global temperature changes. Go to the En-ROADS website. and try it out. Get a feel for what it will take to bring down global temperatures in the short and long terms (such as 2040, 2100).

Here's a video that walks you through one possible scenario: Testing "Keep It In the Ground" in the En-ROADS Simulator.

Although En-Roads offers a set of goals that can add up to keeping global temperatures "under control," it does not tell us how to achieve them. Imagine that each of its 18 interventions is matched with a probability of actually implementing it. How would the outcomes of the simulation differ?

Follow these instructions to discuss with your colleagues:

Consider what you have learned about taking action on climate change and plans (see especially "Designing plans that add up" in Andre, pp. 168-175, and "What's the plan?" pp. 211-221) and, in En-Roads, the 18 factors and the proposed actions modeled under each of them (click on, for example, 'Coal' or "Electrification" to see the details of the model.) Then complete the En-ROADS Goals Survey (created by your professor) to place each of the 18 proposed En-ROADs changes into one of three buckets (they do not have to be evenly distributed) according to whether you believe that, given Team Humanity's decision-making strengths and weaknesses, they are achievable.
In a post, describe your rationale for your ranking. (150-200 words).
You will not be able to see your classmates' comments until you make your initial post.

Post your initial response and respond to your classmates' comments.

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17. Change for Climate Change: Yale's Latest Book Picks

Up Your Game on Climate Change!

Yale Climate Connections just curated a collection of books and reports on change for climate change (January 2023). Author Michael Svoboda writes, "Each offers practical advice for individuals who want to persuade their communities to act on climate change… So if you want to up your game on climate change this year, resolve to read one of these books." 

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16. The (André) five-practice model

Many thanks to Petra Molthan-Hill and Lia Blaj-Ward of the Nottingham Business School, Nottingham Trent University, UK, for lending their expertise to contextualize and apply what they dub the "André five-practice model"  to educate climate leaders "at university" (as they say in their British English!).  In their 2022 Open Access article "Assessing climate solutions and taking climate leadership: how can universities prepare their students for challenging times?" they dig deeply into how to use the model to educate effective climate leaders. The full article is a significant read from Teaching in Higher Education that can help jumpstart university thinking about how to teach climate change and develop climate leaders across disciplines. 






Petra and Lia describe how my book Lead for the Planet: Five Practices for Confronting Climate Change, developed in classrooms over a decade, is "a relevant blueprint to help facilitate climate learning and leadership in university students not only in the specific US context of a university-wide module but also in other types of higher education institutions or national systems. Disciplines with a climate science orientation or with a direct connection to the natural or built environment would benefit from including it into their curriculum to help students develop a systemic perspective and make meaningful connections between ways of thinking about the climate, practising relevant climate action and be(com)ing climate leaders. Disciplines with a social science underpinning or with a broader societal remit (e.g. Business, Sociology, Education, Psychology, Media, Journalism) would find the blueprint a natural fit. Disciplines whose remit is further removed from climate science or planning and leading social action (e.g. Literature, Philosophy, Languages, History) would benefit from exploring how the texts they engage with construct messages about the climate and how these texts can be used as a basis for conversations which raise awareness and prompt more substantial and active engagement with climate debates."




They write..."Creating space within the curriculum for interdisciplinary conversations and reflection on the valuable and unique contribution of each subject area to making the planet a better place to live would enrich university learning. Equally valuable would be scope to consider how academic knowledge about the climate and relevant climate solutions as well as co- or extracurricular experiences at university converge to enable students' growth into rounded professionals and citizens."




The authors continue to develop theory that promotes the teaching of climate leadership, as here:


Molthan-Hill, P., L. Blaj-Ward, M. Mbah, and T. Ledley Shapiro. 2021. "Climate Change Education at Universities: Relevance and Strategies for Every Discipline." In Handbook of Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation, edited by M. Lackner, B. Sajjadi, and W. Y. Chen. New York, NY: Springer. doi:https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4614-6431-0_153-1.


Molthan-Hill, P., N. Worsfold, G. J. Nagy, W. Leal Filho, and M. Mifsud. 2019. "Climate Change Education for Universities: A Conceptual Framework from an International Study." Journal of Cleaner Production 226: 1092–1101. doi:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jclepro.2019.04.053. [Crossref], [Web of Science ®], [Google Scholar]




Sponsored by the United Nations PRME Working Group on Climate Change and Environment, I will talk about this (and invite you to engage in the conversation, sharing your local knowledge) March 24, 2022, at 11 a.m. EST. 






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13. "Teach for the Planet": An Interactive Lecture at Georgia College


I enjoyed talking recently with the Faculty of Georgia College, Georgia's Public Liberal Arts University, about how to teach climate change in business schools and across the curriculum. Teaching climate leadership takes students a step beyond climate science to address what Team Humanity must do now. Educators will play a key role.


The session was based on Lead for the Planet: Five Practices for Confronting Climate Change (University of Toronto Press, 2020) and the accompanying free teaching materials available on this website. You can view it here: Teach for the Planet--Interactive Lecture at Georgia College


We got some great feedback (thank you!), like this letter from a b-school prof:


"Thank you for hosting the Teaching Climate Leadership workshop! I mentioned my participation in the workshop to my department members, and I explained again why we should have a Climate Leadership course. To my surprise, they now accepted my arguments. They agreed to have the class on the schedule for this fall as a trial. I will spend time over the summer reading Rae's book and materials to get ready. Participation in the workshop was a great opening to make a case for the course. I hope that at some point you can offer it again."


Many thanks to our co-sponsors: the Council of Public Liberal Arts Colleges (COPLAC) and the Management and Organizational Behavior Teaching Society (MOBTS). Special thanks to my hosts Dr. Micheal Stratton and Dr. Harold Mock, and to Dr. Lorianne Hamilton, Chief Sustainability Officer in Georgia College's Office of Sustainability.  

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