The Climate Action Leadership Diploma (CALD) Program at Pearson

Pearson College UWC launched an exciting and innovative new curriculum option in the 2022-23 academic year ​ for students with a passion for tackling the most pressing issue facing humanity – climate change. The new Climate Action Leadership Diploma is an IB Career-related Program (IBCP) and is among the first of its kind, two-year diploma for 16-19-year-olds who wish to specialize in climate leadership. CALD is a diploma program alternative to our existing IB Diploma Program.

Programmatic Strengths

The CALD curriculum leverages unique programmatic strengths: our location on the shores of the Salish Sea and amongst the old-growth forests of Vancouver Island, a commitment to collaboration and community building with Indigenous elders and knowledge keepers, support for local partnerships with outstanding educational institutions and community leaders, and a deliberately diverse cohort of inspired students. Our curriculum is designed in alignment with the United World College values, the International Baccalaureate (IB) Career- Related Program (CP), partnerships with local universities – Vancouver Island University and Royal Roads University – and informed by an analysis of what the world and our students need through the lenses of the UN SDGs and global intersectional movements for change and solidarity.

CALD Curriculum Overview

Take an in-depth look at the CALD curriculum.

Statement from the International Baccalaureate

Pearson College UWC is an International Baccalaureate (IB) World School authorized to offer the IB Diploma Program. The College is currently a candidate school* for the International Baccalaureate (IB) Career-related Certificate Program and is pursuing authorization for this designation from the IB. (*Candidate status gives no guarantee that authorization will be granted.)

IB World Schools share a common philosophy—a commitment to improve the teaching and learning of a diverse and inclusive community of students by delivering challenging, high-quality programmes of international education that share a powerful vision. Please see:

IB Mission Statement

The International Baccalaureate aims to develop inquiring, knowledgeable and caring young people who help to create a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect. To this end the organization works with schools, governments and international organizations to develop challenging programs of international education and rigorous assessment. These programs encourage students across the world to become active, compassionate and lifelong learners who understand that other people, with their differences, can also be right.

Climate Action Leadership Studies

  • University-accredited courses in partnership with Vancouver Island University (VIU) and Royal Roads University (RRU)
  • Bespoke UWC Programming in Leading Climate Action
  • Microcredentials
  • Experiential learning through connection to land, sea, and Indigenous community partnerships 

IB Diploma Program Subjects

IB Core

  • Service Learning
  • Reflective Project
  • Personal and Professional 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 university instructor(s) at the end of each term.

  2. Bespoke UWC Programming – Leading Climate Action
    Developed and delivered in-house, with invited external speakers, guest lecturers, and direct place-based experiences, this course runs alongside and complements the knowledge, skills, values, and attributes students are learning in the university level and CP Core courses. This course creates opportunities to connect to land, sea, and Indigenous values and community. 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 that meets the unique Climate Action Competency framework.

  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 and Impacts (Royal Roads University)

Term 2 – Indigenous Perspectives on the Environment (I) (Vancouver Island University)

Term 3 – Indigenous Perspectives on the Environment (II) (Vancouver Island University)

Term 4 – Resilient Leadership as Practice (Royal Roads University)

This customised Pearson College UWC course is integral to the CALD program and weaves a coherent thread through the program, optimising opportunities for learners to apply a transdisciplinary lens and a multi-world view perspective to current climate action challenges. CALD students engage in discussion circles, work with subject matter experts, explore current theories, debates, policies and contemporary developments in the field of climate adaptation in Canada and globally.

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

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

Complexity: Understanding complex adaptive systems

Ecological Economics & Place-Based Economies

Just Transitions Towards Just Futures: Climate and Social Justice

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

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


After a successful two-years of study in the Climate Action Leadership Diploma program, graduates will have: 

12 transferable university credits


IB Career-Related Program Certificate


IB Diploma Course Certificates

For the 3 courses of their choosing, at either the Standard or Higher Level



 specialised in practical skills in areas of interest related to climate action 


Access to Pearson College UWC partner universities


A Focus on Experiential Learning

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 more than 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 and Climate Action Competencies.

Climate Action Competencies

Identity & Positionality
  • Values
  • Critical Self-Location
  • Power & Equity
Working together for Climate Action
  • Supporting Partnerships
  • Facilitation
  • Conflict Transformation
Climate Action Literacies
  • Communication
  • Complex Systems
  • Scientific Literacy
Stewarding Transformative Change
  • Building and Supporting Movements
  • Solutions Design
  • Leading Change at Scale
Climate Adaptation & Climate Mitigation
  • Vulnerability & Impact
  • Modeling & Predictions
  • Restoration & Protection

Meet some of the current CALD students

The CALD program 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. Our pioneer cohort is comprised of 15 students from 13 nations, and each student brings a unique perspective and breadth of experience as 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 attracts 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. 

Charlie (Year 49/2023, United Kingdom) joined Pearson College UWC and the Climate Action Leadership Diploma Program with a strong interest in sustainability and social justice.

Prior to coming to Pearson, Charlie organized local Fridays for the Future demonstrations, community education activities and garbage picks, and was a Member of Youth Parliament. They also volunteered with the UK Student Climate Network’s political outreach working group.

Charlie’s IB subjects are Philosophy HL, English A: Language & Literature HL and Marine Science SL. They were drawn to the Climate Action Leadership program because they wanted to learn and develop international awareness, while building formally recognized skills in taking direct action and grassroots mobilization.

While studying at the College, Charlie is building their kayaking skills and coastal biodiversity knowledge in the activities program. They are passionate about the intersection between culture, politics and justice with environmental breakdown, and wish to study human geography, environmental sciences or social anthropology at university.


Maddy (Year 49/2024, Canada-YT) was inspired to join the Climate Action Leadership Diploma because they feel strongly that the climate crisis should be at the forefront of all educational systems.

Back home, Maddy was part of the Yukon Youth Panel for Climate Change and they spent their summer working on conservation projects around the Yukon.
At Pearson, Maddy is taking Marine Science SL, Chemistry HL, and Mathematics SL.

They are a member of the Wilderness hiking activity and a creative art collective that builds outdoor art installations with their peers. Maddy hopes to study environmental sciences in university, with the ultimate goal of becoming an educator and documentary filmmaker.

Molly (Year 49/2024, Taiwan) came to Pearson College UWC after completing her Waldorf education in Taiwan. She is broadly interested in science and is taking Chemistry HL, Economics, and English A: Language & Literature as her IB Diploma Program subjects.

Molly was involved with an environmental protection NGO in her home country for a number of years, and after being immersed in the mountains, coastline, and biodiversity of Taiwan, she developed an appreciation for nature and a sense of responsibility to learn more about the climate crisis.

Molly plans to study the Mulu National Park in Sarawak, Malaysia as her socio-ecological system this term. She hopes to connect her volunteer experience working on solar energy with Indigenous communities to her increasing knowledge of climate science and systems. She is enjoying community service and nurturing her love of art and design in the activities program.

Syarif (Year 49/2024, Indonesia) came to UWC with a strong interest in sustainable agriculture and food systems. His three IB Diploma Program subjects are Chemistry HL, English B HL and Mathematics AA SL.

Syarif is new to the climate movement, but was drawn to this program given his interest for climate justice and food security. He values the importance of collaboration in complex systems, and the connection of land, culture, and community.

On campus, Syarif joined the Model UN and the Coastal Biodiversity activities. In his first term, he has undertaken a deep dive study into the socio-ecological system of eastern Borneo as the Indonesian government aims to build their new capital city.

After Pearson, he hopes to pursue university studies in biotechnology, agriculture, or ecology.

Growing up in a small island nation, Ziah (Year 49/2024, Marshall Islands/Phillipines) has first-hand experience of the effects of severe climate change .

Ziah joined the UWC movement with a desire to focus her studies on sustainability and live in a deliberately diverse community.

She is new to the climate movement, but created art and propaganda pieces back home to promote sustainability. Ziah’s courses are Theatre, Philosophy, and Mathematics SL and she is an animal caretaker on campus.

She loves anime, performance, and art and is pursuing these passions through her Theatre course and in her art activity. She is compelled to dedicate her education and career goals to improving sustainable systems on the Marshall Islands.

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. We believe that the CALD program offers a deeper dive into the relevant skills, attributes, values, and behaviours that are necessary to solve complex problems, such as the climate crisis.

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