The Climate Action Leadership Diploma (CALD) Curriculum at Pearson

*Subject to approval by the International Baccalaureate

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 program graduates will forge lasting climate solutions based on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals as entrepreneurs and scientists, changemakers in the financial and resource sectors, innovators in tech and global health, and collaborators in the policymaking, private, and public sectors. CALD is a diploma program alternative to our existing IB Diploma Program.

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 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
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.

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 Field School

In the summer between their first and second year, CALD students take part in the 2-week Salish Sea 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.

Duc joined UWC with a strong interest in entrepreneurship and engineering. His subjects are Physics, Mathematics and Economics. Under the guidance of his alum mentor, he is exploring social venture partnerships with First Nations through a project at x̌ʷayɘŋ (Race Rocks) on kelp farming for carbon capture. At Pearson, he is learning to dive and is a student leader in kayaking. Duc’s Reflective Project examined the ethics and regulation of geoengineering and planetary-scale technology. Duc’s dream is to work in the nature-based solutions planning field on building resilient and sustainable blue economy ventures..


Rudo came to UWC with a strong interest in human rights and public policy. Her two subjects are Philosophy and Global Politics, and she has earned microcredentials in Direct Action Organizing and Effective Advocacy. At Pearson, she is part of the Paddling program and participated in the Paddle to Suquamish Tribal Canoe Journey where she learned about Indigenous sovereignty and resurgence in First Nations borderland communities. Her Reflective Project was about the gaps in protection for people being displaced across borders by climate disasters. After Pearson she wants to focus on campaigning against border militarization and plans on pursuing studies in global security policy and migrant rights.

David is passionate about climate justice and food sovereignty. He takes Spanish and Global Politics as his two IB subjects, and is continuing to learn Anishinaabemowin (Ojibwe) online. David is deeply involved with the Saanich Native Plants seed exchange and nursery project and is a certified Pollinator Steward. David’s Reflective Project was about agrarian land trusts on unceded First Nations territories and his service project was on urban collaborative farming. David wants to be a community organizer in urban food insecure communities and wants to help young agrarians from minoritized backgrounds access agricultural land. He also wants to get a post-Pearson education that will make him an asset to a place like the UN World Food Programme or One Acre Fund.

Luna has a passionate interest in international relations and finance. At Pearson, she takes History, Economics, and Global Politics and is actively involved as a student leader for Model United Nations and the Conversations About Race initiative. Having spent time in BC’s ancient temperate rainforests, Luna was inspired to write her Reflective Project about the global conservation coordination efforts in the Coalition of Rainforest Nations through a just transition lens. Luna’s dream is to work at the level of strategic coalitions in global governance and convening effective policy dialogues on equitable climate financing for mitigation and adaptation in the world’s Least Developed Countries.

Shruti joined UWC with a strong interest in film and conservation. Her subjects are Visual Arts and Marine Science. At Pearson she is learning to dive and sail, co-leads the Film Club and is one of the student facilitators for the x̌ʷayɘŋ (Race Rocks) Immersion Weekends. She is also part of the Salish Sea Stewards program and did her Reflective Project at the Applied Conservation Science Lab at UVic. During her time at Pearson she worked on two mini-documentaries: about ethnobotanical knowledge of medicinal plants, and about the movement to breach the four lower Snake River dams. Shruti’s dream is to become a National Geographic explorer and wildlife conservationist and presenter.


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