Hi! My name is Lily Hartzell and I’m an intern at the Unitarian Universalist United Nations Office. I live in California, and I’m entering my senior year of high school. This summer I have been creating a religious education curriculum geared towards fourth and fifth graders. Its goal is to spread awareness and action about the effects of climate change to a young age group, and in doing so, increase support for global environmental initiatives.
The United Nations works in many areas related to climate change, and I used these categories to form the foci of my lessons. Each of the six lessons is about one aspect of the issue, including climate change and religion, food shortages, human health, natural disasters, energy use, and tragedy of the commons. Many of the resources provided relate to the UN, such as a board game created by United Nations International Children Fund (UNICEF) about disaster prevention and the story about a woman helped by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The international focus of the curriculum is motivated by the fact that climate change is a truly global problem. We gratefully acknowledge the UUA Tapestry of Faith program “World of Wonder” for stories in sessions one and five.
It is imperative that this generation not only understand the nature of the problem of climate change, but has the motivation and tools to take action. This curriculum is meant to make participants knowledgeable about the many ways climate change is already changing our lives and the potential it has to do more damage. However, Do One Thing projects are included to encourage participants to take action in one area of their lives, such as reducing the carbon they release to get to school. Stories, activities, discussions, case studies, and background information are all provided to give the students a solid understanding of each topic.
An important part of the curriculum is its ties to Unitarian Universalism. Our religion is one based in social action, and climate change is one of the biggest action items of our time. The seventh principle of respecting the interdependent web of which we are a part is also a call to action on environmental issues.
This curriculum can be used by any congregation as religious education or a separate program. It can be expanded or condensed to fit specific situations. I encourage you to bring it to your congregation to spread awareness and engage with youth about finding solutions to climate change. Follow the Unitarian Universalist United Nations Office on Twitter and on Facebook for more updates or visit our Climate Change Initiative Program page.