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Climate change, education, and neuroscience

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Abstract: Addressing climate change and progressing sustainability are pressing global challenges which require collective action. In the UK, initiatives from the Department for Education have begun to engage young people in climate action and integrate new environmental materials into the curriculum ( However, anxiety linked to climate change is affecting mental health in all communities, especially in young people. Although many of us now think that the climate is changing rapidly due to human behaviour – which should logically lead us to decide to change our behaviour – a neuroscience perspective shows that human decision making is influenced not just by beliefs but also by emotions, rewards, and social discourse (such as on social media). It is important to understand the contribution of these factors to pro-environmental behaviour. For example, the brain is interested in immediate, personally relevant consequences (jumping in my car to drive to the shops), while climate change often involves abstract ideas far in the future (the living conditions of distant generations). In this talk, I’ll discuss key dimensions of brain function that influence decision-making in the context of pro-environmental behaviour, and show how such an understanding may be beneficial to encouraging collective action to address climate change and enhance sustainable human societies.




January 18, 2024
4:00 pm
- 5:00 PM