“How do we use art to address climate change, or how do we use art to explore feelings about climate change”
Make sure to read the very last line below. It should give you chills.
New Jersey requires climate change education. A year in, here’s how it’s going
Evelyn Lansing, a senior at Hopewell Valley Central High School in Pennington, N.J., brushed purple glaze onto her clay tile as the school year came to an end in June.
Lansing and her classmates had spent weeks researching the impacts of human-caused climate change on their communities and their own lives. Their bas-relief tiles and the three-dimensional images sculpted onto them represented something each of them learned.
Lansing’s tile featured a blueberry branch – a nod to the rich agricultural heritage of New Jersey, which has earned it the nickname “the garden state.”
“A lot of those things that we are used to seeing aren’t going to be able to be grown here with the continuing climate change,” said Lansing, who comes from a family that grows their own food.
New Jersey – a state with roughly 130-miles of coastline – is already confronting multiple climate realities, from more frequent flooding and extreme heat to air pollution from wildfire smoke in Canada.
In New Jersey classrooms, students are facing these realities head on. In 2020, the state became the first in the country to adopt standards requiring climate change to be taught across grade levels and in nearly all subjects in K-12 public schools.
Those standards were rolled out last year, including in the ceramics class at Hopewell Valley Central High…
Brown and Lansing’s art teacher Carolyn McGrath said she encourages students to think of art as a tool.
“How do we use art to address climate change, or how do we use art to explore feelings about climate change or to communicate about climate change or to motivate people to do something about climate change, right? So, this is the power of art,” McGrath said…
Now, students learn about climate change not only in McGrath’s ceramics class, but in most subjects including physical education.
In Suzanne Horsley’s wellness class at Toll Gate Grammar School in Pennington, students sit in a circle in the gym. Horsley’s students are usually outside, but on this day, they are indoors because of wildfire smoke.
“We just experienced this week some very interesting air quality, correct?,” Horsley asks the class. The students nod and chant “Yes” in unison.
Donations tax deductible
to the full extent allowed by law.