Holding discussions on climate change responsibility and the law

It should come as no surprise that many young people are concerned about climate change. Thus, educators have an important role to play in highlighting climate issues and need creative, engaging ways of bringing the topic into the classroom. Here at Kialo Edu, we have developed a collection of ready-made debate topics relating to climate change responsibility and the law to fire up the discussion.

These discussions are ideal for social studies, citizenship, and geography lessons. We have even taken responsibility for including a follow-up activity for each discussion to fully activate student learning. Let’s proceed!

Should individuals assume responsibility for climate change?

Many young people report feeling powerless against climate change as data shows that just 100 companies are responsible for 71% of global emissions. As students dive into this discussion, they may want to consider their own actions.

How does burning fossil fuels help them get to school? Have they bought anything that is a product of deforestation? Which of the foods they eat come from livestock farming? We hope your students show a responsible attitude to this discussion!

Should individuals assume responsibility for climate change? kialo-edu.com

How to follow up on this discussion in class

You could further develop students’ argumentation skills through persuasive writing and campaigning. Or, you can ask them to write an opinion piece. Some may decide to target the larger organizations that they feel are at the heart of climate change, whereas others may focus on persuading the student body or the local community to take action.

To challenge students further, ask them to campaign for the opposing view. This will further develop their critical thinking and encourage them to explore multiple perspectives on this topic.

Should citizens try to sue corporations and governments over climate change?

Increasingly, people are turning to the law in the fight against climate change. Those students who believe responsibility for climate change lies with large organizations will enjoy delving deeper to discuss whether citizens should try to sue these corporations.

As part of the discussion, students could examine recent court cases on this issue, using them as evidence to form their own claims about whether the law should be used in this way.

Should citizens try to sue corporations and governments over climate change? kialo-edu.com

How to follow up on this discussion in class

Why not bring the courtroom into the classroom and hold a mock trial? The case could be based on students’ research into climate responsibility, making the research purposeful. Students can take on prosecution or defense roles, or act as witnesses.

The activity will improve students’ transferable skills such as oracy and confidence as well as deepen their knowledge of climate issues. Contextualizing learning in this way increases engagement and motivation, and, more importantly, makes this challenging subject fun!

Should “necessity defense” be a legal defense for climate activists?

When it comes to excuses, students are the masters. From the classic “The dog ate my homework,” to the more imaginative “I was attacked by a swarm of bees!” their imagination knows no bounds. So, with this expert knowledge, students will enjoy learning more about the way climate activists are using the “necessity defense” to justify their behavior.

As climate protests become more extreme, students will be able to use up-to-date news articles as a basis for writing their claims about whether activists should use the law in this way.

Should “necessity defense” be a legal defense for climate activists? kialo-edu.com

How to follow up on this discussion in class

Climate protestors sometimes target priceless works of art, as students may discover whilst researching their claims. You could ask your students to research and respond to the artwork involved. They could then investigate the reasons to target these specific pieces.

Students could also combine ideas collaboratively to create an innovative piece of artwork blending the traditional pieces protesters are targeting with their own representation of climate change issues. For those students who might struggle to contribute to discussions, this is a great opportunity to demonstrate their learning.

Our ready-made Topic Templates are sure to be a great way to start discussions in your classroom. But of course, climate change is an evolving topic and there are likely to be new issues to discuss. Fortunately, Kialo Edu discussions are fully customizable; you may even wish to create your own discussion from scratch.

We would love to hear more about how you are empowering students to think critically about climate issues. You can contact us directly at feedback@kialo-edu.com, or via our social media accounts. Now, the court is in session. All rise!

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