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Enabling carbon literacy among students at the University of Leeds

Enabling carbon literacy among students at the University of Leeds

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Leeds University Business School is committed to embedding and promoting sustainable practices both within the school and in wider society. The school sought to create high-quality online carbon literacy training for its students and the wider community at the University of Leeds. Academics at the university had the expertise and partnered with Curio Group to translate this into an engaging and relevant, self-paced course that teaches learners how to understand and respond to the climate crisis.

Curio’s approach was based on three key critical success factors:

  • A partnership with academics that encouraged them to embrace active learning principles over more traditional methods 
  • An ability to communicate complex and challenging subjects in an engaging and motivating way 
  • An iterative approach to the project ensured stakeholders’ voices and ambitions were reflected in the final product

First, Curio collaborated with Leeds’ academics to explore their ambitions for the program. Initial ambitions were for a typical “e-learning” course consisting of lengthy didactic videos interrupted by multiple-choice quizzes. Curio explained the benefits of active learning principles, in which learners engage in a variety of learning formats and apply their new knowledge to activities that enable the retention of learning. Having secured buy-in from stakeholders, we proceeded to produce a course in which learners actively explore the implications of the climate crisis for themselves, their community, and the planet.

Figure 1: Learners engage in active learning that promotes deeper knowledge retention.


The climate crisis is a complex, wicked problem with multiple causes and roots. Learning about the climate crisis and its impacts is challenging and confronting for learners. Climate anxiety is real. Curio collaborated with academic experts to design a course structure that scaffolds student’s learning. Students explore a sequence of modules that cover discrete topics but which signpost how the topics overlap and affect each other. The course has a section on climate anxiety upfront and ends with an action-oriented module on how learners can contribute to change.

Figure 2: Discrete modules scaffold students’ learning about the complex climate crisis 

                         Enabling carbon literacy among students at the University of Leeds

As the project progressed, it became clear that the complexity of the climate crisis required a larger course than originally anticipated. Curio adapted its project approach to extend our timelines and provide more time for academic experts to make their contributions. We agreed on new feedback loops to allow time for academic review and further revisions and showcases of the course to senior stakeholders to ensure buy-in and success at launch. The result is a course that teaches the climate crisis in detail, showcases the university as a champion of sustainability, and enables students at the University of Leeds to respond positively to the most pressing challenge of our time.


                                                                                 Enabling carbon literacy among students at the University of Leeds

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