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The Climate Action Leadership Diploma (CALD) Curriculum at Pearson

*Subject to approval by the International Baccaleaureate

The curriculum framework for the Climate Action Leadership Diploma is based on the IBCP, and greatly enriched by content guided by and relevant to the UWC mission, the Pearson College UWC educational model, and competencies for the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Climate Action Leadership Studies

  • University courses in partnership with Vancouver Island University (VIU) and Royal Roads University (RRU)
  • Bespoke UWC Programming in Leading Climate Action
  • Microcredentials
  • Salish Sea Leadership Field School

IB Diploma Program Subjects

  • Students choose 2 to 3 courses at any level from the IB Diploma Program

UWC & IB Core

  • Service Learning
  • Reflective Project
  • Personal, Professional and Life Skills
  • Language Development

A Closer Look at Climate Action Leadership Studies

The Climate Action Leadership programming is delivered over 600 hours of instruction spread over 2 years, and consists of:

  1. University-level Courses, in partnership with VIU and RRU
    Students in the program go through the courses as a cohort, with an instructor from VIU and a facilitator at Pearson. Course delivery is a blend of facilitated online lectures and in-person activities, with at least one face-to-face session with the instructor per week. The cohort takes one course per term for four terms. Learning in these courses is assessed by the VIU instructor(s) at the end of each term.
  2. Bespoke UWC Programming
    Developed and delivered in-house, with invited Indigenous Elders, external speakers, and guest lecturers, these half-term modules run alongside and complement the university level courses. Learning in this module is entirely internally assessed and exam-free. Student learning is demonstrated through project-based work and reflection captured in their portfolios.
  3. Microcredentials
    An area of differentiation and self-directed learning giving students the opportunity to specialize in an area of interest. We expect students to be able to choose microcredentials of 150-200 hrs.

Term 1 – Climate Science, Resilience and Adaptation

Term 2 – Indigenous Perspectives on the Environment (I)

Term 3 – Indigenous Perspectives on the Environment (II)

Term 4 – Leadership and Impact: Making A Difference That Matters

*Course curriculum under development

Two-Eyed Seeing, Reciprocity, and Gratitude: Grounding in the UWC values and the First Peoples’ Principles of Learning

Global Issues to Local Solutions: Connecting Big Picture Activism and Local Futures

To understand the world as it is:

Complexity: Understanding complex adaptive systems (x̌ʷayɘŋ (Race Rocks) Immersion Week(end))

Ecological Economics & Place-Based Economies

To imagine the world as it could be:

Just Transitions Towards Just Futures: Climate and Social Justice

Design Thinking for the UNSDGs: High-tech, low-tech and tinkering solutions

And to move towards just futures:

Engaged Citizenship and Participatory Futures

Migration, Displacement and Climate Justice: Undoing Border Imperialism Amid Climate Crisis

  • Microcredentials allow students to specialize and develop practical skills in areas of interest related to climate action
  • Hands-on microcredentials (e.g. arboriculture, seed-saving, natural building) are offered through local experts
  • Microcredentials in the form of digital badges (e.g. social impact design, practical futurism, blockchaining) can be pursued and earned remotely/virtually

Salish Sea Leadership Field School

In the summer between their first and second year, CALD students take part in the 4-week Salish Sea Leadership Field School, modelled after the Redfish School of Change and combining elements of the Pearson Seminar on Youth Leadership and VIU’s Xwulmuxw Studies. They will complete coursework in:

  • Community Building and Intersectional Leadership
  • Centering Indigenous Futures on the Salish Coast
  • All That We Can Save: Ecology and Hope in the Salish Sea
  • Indigenous Knowledge: Land as Life in Coast Salish Culture

Woven through this curriculum are immersive field/case studies on mitigation and adaptation to rising sea levels in coastal communities, eco-cultural revitalization and restoration, climate impact of wildfire risk reduction and forest management, decarbonized energy systems, negative emissions technologies, climate change displacement and migration preparedness, climate resilience of coastal temperate rainforests and underwater kelp forest ecosystems, and more. 

These are not field trips designed to illustrate concepts learned in the classroom, but immersive learning experiences that allow students to develop and meet the cognitive, socio-emotional and behavioral learning outcomes for the UN SDGs. 

The CALD Competency Model

developed by Adaptation Learning Network

Climate Adaptation Science & Practice Literacy
  • Climate Change Science
  • Climate Adaptation Science
  • Indigenous Knowledge Systems
  • Research
Climate Adaptation Leadership
  • Professional Practice
  • Leadership
  • Change Management
  • Decision Making
Working Together in Climate Adaptation
  • Climate Communication
  • Cultural Agility
  • Facilitation
  • Engagement
  • Collaboration
Understanding the Climate Adaptation Challenge
  • Vulnerability & Impact Analysis
  • Risk Assessment
  • Futures Thinking
  • Economic Analysis
  • Personal Resilience
Climate Adaptation Planning & Implementation
  • Strategy & Planning
  • Solution Design
  • Policy & Governance
  • Builiding Capacity
  • Program Management
  • Mainstreaming

CALD and the “Ideal” Student

The CALD option is much broader than simply an “ecosystems or environmental” curriculum. Effective future climate leadership requires a broad set of skills, interests and applications to help accelerate the global and multi-sectoral change we need to make, and our course intentionally reflects this. In fact, we have identified several student profiles that would fit the CALD pathway, including scientists, story tellers, political activists, anthropologists, engineers and artists, to name a few.

However, any prospective student should approach this option having a strong desire to apply their study and interests to a solutions-focused agenda centred around climate and sustainability action. Interested students should be prepared to take university-level courses from Royal Roads University and Vancouver Island University that require experiential and applied learning projects in the field in different locations across Vancouver Island.

The program will be attractive to self-directed yet collaborative students who are critical and ethical thinkers wishing to acquire practical skills and knowledge. Students who are academically strong, as well as resilient, determined, confident, caring and reflective inquirers and thinkers will find this a fulfilling and transformative program.

Laura arrived with a high school diploma and a strong interest in arts for social change. Her two subjects are Theatre and Global Politics, and she has earned microcredentials in Direct Action Organizing and Effective Advocacy. She is learning SENĆOŦEN, helped stage a play at the ȽÁU, WELṈEW̱ Tribal School for young learners and created a Reflective Project on the role of art and ceremony in Indigenous water defense movements. A member of the Global Affairs team and the Women’s Empowerment Club at Pearson, her ambitions are to do social impact work with a focus on women and children.


Shruti brought interests in film and conservation to Pearson where they are learning to dive and sail and are active with the Film Club and as a facilitator for x̌ʷayɘŋ (Race Rocks) Immersion Weekends.  Their subjects are Marine Science and Philosophy, aligning with their activities in the Salish Sea Stewards program, a Reflective Project at the University of Victoria’s Applied Conservation Science Lab and the creation of a mini-doc on ethnobotanical knowledge of medicinal plants. While undecided about post-secondary opportunities, Shruti’s dream is to become a National Geographic explorer and wildlife conservationist and presenter.

Amari, passionate about climate justice and food sovereignty, takes Spanish and Global Politics as his IB subjects and is learning Anishinaabemowin online. He is deeply involved with the Saanich Native Plants seed exchange and nursery, is a certified Pollinator Steward and completed projects on agrarian land trusts on unceded First Nations territories and on urban collaborative farming and food security. Ayana wants to be a community organizer for food security and help young agrarians from minoritized backgrounds access land. Post-Pearson, his aim is to work for organizations the UN World Food Program or the One Acre Fund.

Jaakko is Sami from northern Finland where his family practices traditional and sustainable reindeer husbandry. With an interest in STEM, at Pearson he is studying IB Diploma physics and chemistry, while maintaining several academic and experiential learning pursuits. His motivation to integrate traditional Indigenous knowledge and thinking into conventional science-based approaches is a passion. In his second year, he entered the Engineers and Geoscientists BC mentorship program and became interested in pursuing studies leading to a career focusing on nature-based solutions engineering. 

Benita understands the impact of inequality both in terms of wealth and access to resources and has been committed from a young age to better grasp the systems that maintain inequity at home and globally. She is pursuing language studies at Pearson to broaden her ability to learn directly from a variety of mainstream and non-traditional sources of information. She is also studying economics and philosophy to build her foundational understanding of current economic and decision-making systems and how these impact economic policy and ultimately, income inequality and food security. 


University Pathways

Making an Impact Now and Beyond

The IBCP diploma is accepted by universities and other post-secondary schools around the world.

IBCP students are in demand and scholarship-eligible because post-secondary admissions staff know this challenging and intense program fosters the self-confidence, skills and enthusiasm students need for success in higher education and in their careers.

Check the IB Organization’s most recent list of the post-secondary possibilities for IBCP graduates.

What others have to say about CALD 

“The climate crisis is the single greatest opportunity for innovation in human history. 

“Political barriers are the most critical challenge to successful climate action. Pearson College UWC is uniquely positioned to break down these barriers by bringing together passionate young leaders from around the world.”

Dr. Andrew Weaver, OBC

IPCC panel, professor at UVIC and former MLA


Building partnerships for an impactful education (in progress)

Vancouver Island University

Sc'ianew First Nation

Indigenous Climate Action

Sierra Club BC

Royal Roads University

Salmon Nation

Salish Sea Institute

Raincoast Conservation Foundation

University of Victoria

Local Futures

Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions

Red Fish School of Change