News Decoder has launched a series of projects, funded by the European Union, to help teachers integrate climate change into the classroom.

Students paint a mural calling for more action to stop climate change.

Students at the Climate Academy designed and created a mural in the grounds of their school evoking the rights of young people who will be most affected by the adverse consequences of climate change.

Paint a wall. Write a story. Participate in a webinar. Bring climate change discussions into your schools.

Many young people feel ignored when it comes to climate change conversations. That’s why News Decoder is excited to announce a new project called The Writing’s on the Wall (WoW) to encourage young people to use their creative talents and voices to raise global awareness of this environmental emergency.

The project is a partnership between News Decoder, the Climate Academy at the European School Brussels II and Global Youth & News Media. Funded by the European Union’s Erasmus+ program, WoW offers multiple ways young people can participate in a fun, fact-focused initiative combining activism, journalism and art.

“Climate change stands in front of our noses like a brick wall,” said Matthew Pye, philosophy teacher and author and founder of the Climate Academy. “The laws of physics and chemistry cannot be manipulated, negotiated or argued with. They are just there. But we have the choice to look at them, and we have the choice to make a creative and informed response.”

“Climate change stands in front of our noses like a brick wall.”

WoW is aimed at secondary school students and educators. It is particularly appropriate for students aged 15 to 18, although the concepts and resources can also be adapted to younger or older students.

WoW features two projects that students can directly participate in: a storytelling competition and the creation of a mural.

A series of six climate conversations will be hosted at the American Library in Paris and online, while a collection of “Climate Decoders” — articles that break down complicated climate change topics — can be incorporated into classroom assignments and discussions. Rounding out the offerings is a trio of informative videos that help students tell climate change stories.

“This project gives teenage journalists all over the world such a multifaceted opportunity to explore such a crucial topic in such fresh ways,” said Aralynn McMane, president and director of Global Youth and News Media.

“They get to check out the solid and highly accessible background information from the Climate Academy’s videos, to engage in the solutions journalism that the Climate Champion Profiles competition offers and to sample News Decoder’s excellent journalism on the topic. Plus, for the contest winners, the chance to experience its superb coaching.”

Climate Champions storytelling competition

Students can tell solutions-based stories about climate champions in their local area and enter those stories into a worldwide competition sponsored by News Decoder and Global Youth & News Media.

The competition is open to teenagers (ages 13-19) anywhere in the world, working individually or as a team of two who can find and profile someone — through text, a podcast, a video or multimedia — who has launched or is carrying out projects that make real progress toward removing carbon, lowering emissions or passing climate change legislation and doing these and other kinds of actions on a local level that, if copied elsewhere, could have major impact. The deadline is 1 March 2023.

Winners in the contest will receive a cash prize plus coaching and publication by News Decoder. All entrants will have the opportunity to have their stories published on the WoW website.

Painting a wall

Inspired by Normal Rockwell’s 1968 painting “The Right to Know,” students at the Climate Academy designed and created a mural evoking the rights of young people who will be most affected by the adverse consequences of climate change.

“The Writing’s on the Wall project combines art with science in a unique way,” Pye said. “It is so valuable because it offers students and teachers a short cut to the essential truths of the crisis and a way to make a big impact in response to them.”

WoW is encouraging schools across the globe to have students create their own mural and provides a guide to help them do that.

Learning resources

Through WoW, News Decoder and the Climate Academy have produced learning materials that will inspire participants, help teens find and report their climate profiles and help schools incorporate a mural or other climate projects into their curriculum. These include:

1. A Rough Guide to the Climate Crisis

Pye examines the science and impact of the climate crisis through psychological, philosophical and sociological lenses in a series of entertaining and informative videos and accompanying textbook. A teachers’ guide is also available.

2. Climate Journalism Shorts

News Decoder has produced three short videos that will helps students find and report climate change stories through written stories and podcasts. Each video provides tips from environmental journalists.

3. Climate Decoders

Experienced climate journalists from News Decoder demystify important but complex topics about climate change problems and solutions:

  • Sue Landau decodes the different strategies for reducing climate and why the implementation is slow.
  • Jeremy Lovell shows why individual actions seem so ineffective but can have real impact on our planet when combined into a worldwide movement.
  • Alister Doyle explains how international climate conferences can produce real change and why many don’t.
  • Malcolm Davidson breaks down the divide between rich poor countries.
  • Deborah Charles shows us why we should think about what we eat.

4. Ecologues

News Decoder, in partnership with the American Library in Paris, will host a series of “Ecologues” — interactive webinars featuring experts on various aspects of the environmental crisis. The series will allow participants of all ages to tackle disinformation and, ultimately, inspire change in their communities.

“I am delighted that we will hold this important and timely discussion series at the American Library in Paris, which has long encouraged dialogue through thinking, reading and active participation in community,” said Alice McCrum, programs manager at the Library.

“Whether by tackling disinformation and breaking disciplinary boundaries, or by reconciling reflection with action, Ecologues departs from the belief that the greatest challenge of the 21st Century is the climate crisis,” McCrum added. “And that the second greatest challenge is not only disinformation about this crisis but the lack of concrete ways to get involved.”

Visit the project at

Three questions to consider:

  1. Why do some schools find it difficult to incorporate climate change into the curriculum?
  2. What are some ways students can participate in the Writing’s on the Wall project?
  3. Can you think of someone in your local community who is working on a project related to climate change who would be a good profile subject for the storytelling competition?

Marcy Burstiner is the Educational News Director for News Decoder. She is a graduate of the Columbia Journalism School and has taught journalism for more than 15 years at the California Polytechnic University, Humboldt. She is the author of the textbook Investigative Reporting: From premise to publication. 

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