“Political barriers are the most critical challenge to successful climate action. Pearson College UWC is uniquely positioned to break down these by bringing together passionate young leaders from around the world.”
Andrew Weaver, University of Victoria Professor, IPCC Author, Former Leader of the B.C. Green Party and Canada Research Chair in Climate Modelling and Analysis (2001-13)
Pearson’s commitment to sustainability is baked into our mission and we are proud that many, many alumni over the decades have chosen to act upon this principle in varied ways and across community, business, government and non-profit or advocacy sectors as they take action against climate change and to inform more people about the human actions impacting the health of our planet.
This commitment is strengthened with the anticipated fall 2022 introduction of the Climate Action Leadership Diploma (CALD), an International Baccalaureate Career-related Program (IBCP) that will be offered at Pearson for the first time.
“We know the climate crisis is the most critical global threat facing humanity today,” says Craig Davis, Head of College. “More than ever, we urgently need thinkers and leaders who can navigate the complexity of this global challenge and help forge both large-scale and local solutions.”
The IBCP is a highly regarded program, widely recognized by post-secondary institutions around the world, that allows IB schools, like Pearson, flexibility to customize the curriculum to reflect student demand and harness the unique capabilities of specific educational institutions. In Pearson’s case, a place-based approach to learning will be strongly reflected in CALD.
“Place-based education teaches us that many of the competencies key to solving the climate crisis are best learned in the real world context, through hands-on engagement with issues and within relationships of authentic responsibility and accountability to community,” says Marija Uzunova Dang, Pearson’s Experiential Education Coordinator and a principal architect of the CALD initiative.
“It’s in this spirit that we aim to educate the next generation of global climate solution leaders – to invite young people into the complex and hopeful world on the Salish coast and introduce them to the work of people who drive transitions and transformations towards livable and just futures.
“The development of CALD is guided by the wisdom and research showing us that ‘emplacement’ – what it takes to thrive sustainably in a place – is a highly transferable skill-set and prepares its diverse student cohort for global impact inspired by the work they witnessed and took part in while at Pearson College UWC.”
The presence and prominence of Indigenous peoples, communities and leaders on Vancouver Island will be woven throughout the CALD curriculum to ensure that students understand and honour the accumulated environmental stewardship and knowledge gathered over millennia by Indigenous peoples around the world.
Uzunova Dang also worked with Davis and Pearson faculty to build the case for CALD and continues to develop the curriculum in conjunction with recognized academic and Indigenous community environmental and climate experts and leaders. The Pearson campus, located on the unceded territory of the Sc’ianew First Nation, is close to both the University of Victoria and Royal Roads University and less than two hours from mid-Island Vancouver Island University.
CALD university-level courses are being built in partnership with RRU and VIU, added Uzunova Dang, which will be the core of climate action leadership studies. These will be complemented by bespoke UWC programming in leading climate action, student-selected and driven microcredentials to develop specialized and practical skills and a four-week summer program with the Salish Sea Field School between years one and two. CALD students will also choose two to three IB Diploma courses and participate in UWC and IB core learning.
Spreading the CALD Message
Pearson’s Director of Admissions Melody Miu and the National Committee of Canada’s Executive Director Lyndsay Sprado are working with Uzunova Dang as part of their outreach to incoming 2022 students, prospective students for 2023 and beyond and importantly, National Committees volunteers. Both Miu and Sprado are offering a series of online sessions, some of which draw Uzunova Dang as a guest presenter, to “educate” their respective audiences about the new curriculum choices.
“National Committees are also key to helping young people and their families in Canada and around the world understand that we continue to offer a robust and challenging IB Diploma program,” says Miu. “That’s not going away but the CALD pathway is as robust, challenging and as recognized by universities, and offers an outstanding opportunity, particularly for students interested in the many ways to work against climate change and its impact.”
Davis emphasized that point earlier when he said, “the scale of the climate crisis demands we pursue solutions through many routes – as scientists, entrepreneurs and activists, as leaders in technology and global health, as collaborators in policymaking, political and private sectors and as positive changemakers in resource and financial sectors.”
*Subject to confirmation by the International Baccalaureate Organisation