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More varsities embrace climate-change education

Mar 22. 2016
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By The Nation

AS MANY AS 63 universities in the Asia-Pacific region, including Thailand, are rolling out climate-change education.
The classes are based on the curriculum developed by the US Agency for International Development Lowering Emissions in Asia’s Forests (USAid LEAF) ut adjusted to local contexts.
“Taking climate change to classrooms in the region today is a powerful way to ensure that tomorrow’s leaders are already thinking about forests and the environment,” said Beth Paige, director for USAid’s Regional Development Mission in Asia, on the occasion of the International Day of Forests.
“We need the energy and drive |of intelligent, innovative youth to lock in climate change on national and regional agendas. That’s our collective hope for the future of our planet.”
Working with university pro-fessors mainly from the Lower Mekong region, USAid LEAF and the United States Forest Service designed the curriculum to cover basic climate change, social and environmental soundness, low emission land-use planning and carbon measurement and monitoring.
The curriculum is adapted to specific country contexts, and is already being used in classrooms to teach more than 30,000 undergraduate and 700 graduate students.
Universities are now working to integrate the climate-change curriculum as mandatory classes. At Kasetsart University in Thailand, new undergraduate students take a general education course on climate change that integrates all four curriculum modules. Other universities are following suit.
“If you show scientific evidence for climate change, students really get it,” said Dr Pimonrat Tiansawat from Chiang Mai University. “They get excited when I talk about ice cores and tree rings. They see the evidence and are more engaged.”
At Dalat University, a leading research and technology institution in central Vietnam, 8,000 students are required to take an introductory climate-change course.
“It’s easier for me to prepare lessons because the material is ready to use,” said Somvilay Chanthalounnavong, who teaches at the National University of Laos. “There are examples, case studies and guides for the instructor about how to explain the concepts and how to use the material, including role plays, questions and answers and quizzes.”
USAid LEAF, which concludes this year, has launched many innovative tools to address drivers of deforestation and associated greenhouse gas emissions replicated through regional policy and knowledge platforms. The project’s team, for example, provided technical support to government drafting teams in Asia to develop, revise or adopt more than 33 laws, regulations or policies.

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