When the school year begins in Italy next September, students in all grades will learn about climate change in civics classes—and the subject will also begin to be part of the curriculum in classes such as math and physics. The country is the first to make climate change a mandatory part of education.
“I want to make the Italian education system the first education system that puts the environment and society at the core of everything we learn in school,” Lorenzo Fioramonti, Italy’s education minister, told Reuters. The government is working with experts, including Jeffrey Sachs, the director of the Harvard Institute for International Development, to give feedback to staff developing the new curriculum, and teacher training will begin in January.
For the youngest elementary school students, lessons might come in the form of fairy-tale-like stories that illustrate the role of the environment. Older students will study the science, and high school students will study the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The lessons will take up 33 hours a year, or nearly an hour a week. The government sees the changes as critical. “The 21st-century citizen must be a sustainable citizen,” Fioramonti told the New York Times.