Education is one of the strategies for achieving the United Nations’ climate goal to reduce emissions to net zero by 2050. Given the vulnerability of the Caribbean to hazardous climatic conditions, homegrown or expatriates based in the region should feel personally responsible for safeguarding their communities, having had firsthand experiences with hurricanes, flooding, drought, excessive heat, volcanic eruptions, high tides and other climatic catastrophes. Some of these climatic disruptions significantly affect athletes’ training schedules and the hosting of major competitions.
While sport is affected by climate change, sport also contributes to carbon emissions. That is why over 280 sport federations, including the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and Federation of International Football Associations (FIFA), have signed to the UN Sports for Climate Action Framework to develop a climate action agenda for sport.
Clusters of individuals in the region understand the impact and appreciate the urgency for climate-resilient sport practices. Curriculum will be revised to foster climate literacy among students and sport practitioners in the region to increase the number of climate change agents and advocates. Many students at The UWI and other institutions pursue environmental science, geography, geology, climate studies and related sub-disciplines, a process that enhances their knowledge about climate change.
Climate mitigation in the region should be everyone’s responsibility. Therefore, climate studies mainstreaming, the process of embedding applicable, relevant and relatable content or skill in the teaching of established courses to deepen learning, is being proposed to boost climate literacy. Climate studies will be treated in the same way that writing and gender, to a lesser extent, have been mainstreamed.
Curriculum at The University of the West Indies has never been static. The foundational Use of English writing course has evolved into Academic Literacies. Technology and research methods have also been mainstreamed to varying degrees. Climate change should also be mainstreamed or taught across the curriculum. This way, students will learn over time to view climate change as the universal occurrence that it is, rather than a concentrated area of study or isolated topic of interest for the science-minded and/or eccentric.
Climate knowledge that goes beyond awareness will be another tool for university students to become climate literate. That is, the competence to understand, interpret and communicate climate-related material that is read, heard and seen. Using climate information to change practices, advising on climate-smart initiatives, and over time, being inspired to support and act on climate causes, are evidence of climate literacy.
Climate Change in Sport
A preliminary Strategic Scoping Study on Climate Change and Sport in the Caribbean supports the mainstreaming of climate change in the Faculty of Sport programmes at The UWI. As an example, include content, case study and assessment tasks that will guide kinetics majors in understanding how muscle function changes under different climatic conditions. Exposing coaches and athletic trainers to techniques for athletes whose physiologies make them susceptible to extreme climatic conditions, is another way of mainstreaming climate studies in sport. Sport managers must also be businesslike about climate-smart resilient sport.
Sport in Climate Change
Another noteworthy recommendation is extending mainstreaming to sport in climate change, environment and sustainability courses. These areas of study are currently being offered in the pure and applied sciences. Preparatory processes for mainstreaming Sport in Climate studies will include reviewing courses within programmes to identify relevant areas for infusing sport in climate, environmental and sustainability programmes.
Whereas there is a direct disciplinary link between sport science and climate studies, it is also feasible to build climate literacy by integrating climate content in courses that reside in the humanities. Academic writing is compulsory for first-year students. Though student choice motivates writing, writing instructors may select sport and climate change articles as texts for analyses.
Interaction with climate change content will invariably draw students’ attention to the social inequities and the disproportionate ways in which groups are affected by climate change. Turning the spotlight on sport and climate change in the Caribbean would also reveal a myriad of social and economic displacement in the region. Hence, the case for mainstreaming sport in climate change in the Social Sciences is just as compelling as it is in the Sciences and Humanities.
In other words, a framework to treat climate studies as multidisciplinary content that is taught across the curriculum should bolster the university’s push towards graduating critical thinkers and advancing climate activism.
Dr Claudette Coote-Thompson is Curriculum Development Specialist in the Faculty of Sport, Deans Office, Mona campus and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org