New climate science class trains student activists
Lia Fox, Staff Writer|November 13, 2021


Roger Grande and Briana Brown have worked together to design a course that helps students fight climate change through both scientific and historical education.

Only 42 percent of teachers across the country are teaching about climate change, according to a NPR poll from 2019. However, science teacher Briana Brown and history teacher Roger Grande are pioneering climate change education at the high school with their new class on climate science and social change.

Brown and Grande started teaching the new Climate Science and Social Change class this fall. The class addresses the urgency of climate action: it gives students the political skills to make change in the community and a richer understanding of the climate crisis by covering historical and scientific content.

The class is the product of frustration from both teachers who are passionate about helping younger generations fight for their future. Brown said she was losing hope after teaching about climate change in her science classes for 12 years without significant change in the news.

“Collectively as a species, we really have not done anything that we need to do. There’s a little progress here and there. I was starting to feel really pessimistic,” Brown said.

Grande said he felt a personal sense of urgency in combating climate change.

“I think about how [my daughter’s] future is going to be a very different experience than my life so far and climate change is a major driver of disruption that she’ll be experiencing,” Grande said.

Brown said that the class develops both scientific and political skills. On some days, students learn about the science behind climate change’s effects while on others, they learn tactics to convince lawmakers to make policy changes.

“We really want to approach climate science from multiple dimensions,” Brown said.

Senior and student in the class, Evan Guttel, said the Climate Science and Social Change class is unlike any other class he has taken because of its historical and scientific duality.

“I think even in a town like Brookline where a lot of people are very cognizant of the issues surrounding climate change, having a class on it is very necessary and applicable because it’s going to affect all of our lives,” Guttel said.

According to Brown and Grande, climate change requires social action so teaching political skills is necessary to tackle the climate crisis.

“It’s not about the science that’s going to persuade people: it’s the politics,” Grande said.

From the class, Grande said he wants students to have a solid understanding of the science behind climate change as well as the skills to talk about it in a more political setting.

“I want students to become confident and competent climate communicators,” Grande said.

Both Grande and Brown are working hard to increase their influence on the community through training activists who can educate the school community on the climate crisis.

“I feel better that I’m going to be training people to be activists for change,” Brown said. “I can magnify my impact because hopefully a few people at least will go out into the world and start to do these actions that need to be done.”



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