Associate Professor of Teaching University of California Irvine Irvine, California, United States
Session Description: Ecology and environmental science students who spend significant time studying climate change and other planetary crises often suffer emotional distress and anxiety related to their topics of study. This psychological impact has been referred to as “eco-grief” or “climate-anxiety” and often has a negative impact on students’ mental health. Students may be particularly vulnerable to eco-grief because as a demographic, they tend to suffer high rates of anxiety and frustration with the pace at which our society is currently addressing environmental crises. Given this phenomenon, what should be the role of educators in confronting eco-grief in ecology and environmental science classrooms? We will explore this question through an interactive workshop where we (1) review the literature and our own research on eco-grief (2) share observations of eco-grief in students and attempts to address it in the classroom, (3) develop activity ideas and classroom materials to address eco-grief in our classrooms. Participants can expect to interact with other ecologists, educators, and students and leave the session with an undergraduate-level lesson plan addressing eco-grief. Materials used in and produced during the session will be shared among all participants. We particularly welcome attendance and insight from graduate/undergraduate students on ideas for educators to address the mental health impacts of understanding the scope and scale of climate change.