Italy to require students to study climate change and sustainability

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Italy to require students to study climate change and sustainability

By Zack Budryk

Italian public schools will require children in every grade to study environmental sustainability, according to The New York Times.

Education minister Lorenzo Fioramonti said Tuesday that the lessons will begin as part of civics curriculum before being integrated into other subjects and “infiltrat[ing] all courses,” according to the Times.

For example, he said, geography courses will not simply focus on place names and locations, but human impact as well.

The study materials will be developed with the help of a group of “peer reviewer” experts, including Kate Raworth of Oxford University’s Environmental Change Institute and Jeffrey D. Sachs, director of the Harvard Institute for International Development.

In the case of younger children, Fioramonti said “we are thinking of using the fairy-tale model” by using folklore from different cultures to illustrate the human connection to the environment, according to the Times, with middle-grade students learning more clinical lessons on sustainability including the United Nations’s sustainable development goals.

Fioramonti is a member of the Five-Star Movement, which, until this summer, formed a governing coalition with Matteo Salvini’s right-wing League party. The party takes a far more skeptical view of climate change, with Salvini suggesting in May that cold temperatures indicate climate change does not exist.

“That’s the kind of nonsense we want to avoid by educating children that this is the most important challenge humanity has ever faced,” Fioramonti said. “And I want to secure this before there is any change in government that can imperil that kind of process.”

Activists called the proposal a good start but said further action is needed. Edoardo Zanchini, vice president of environmental advocacy group Legambiente, said responsibility for action should not be placed solely on children.

“Science tells us the next 10 years are crucial,” he said, according to the Times. “We cannot wait for the next generation.”