Cascading Crises: Climate Change and K-12 Education

Lawrence, Blacket, and Cradock-Henry (2020) note that climate change is leading to "cascading crises across scales through vulnerability paths, creating secondary emergencies" (p.2). These secondary emergencies can be divided into two interrelated categories: threats to linked social systems (Walker et. al., 2009) and threats to infrastructure (Bollinger and Dijekema, 2016). Otherwise stated, climate change is of significant consequence to both systems and structures, physical and metaphysical alike. No better example of this is the complex institution we call K-12 education.

The World Bank recently reported that, in the next three decades, climate change could lead to at least 1.4 million people fleeing their homes in Mexico and Central America, many of them heading north to the United States. Using a different projection model, Feng, Krueger and Oppenheimer (2010) concluded that climate change alone could drive 6.7 million people toward the Southern U.S. border from neighboring regions by 2080. These "environmental refugees" (Myers, 2002, p.609) are likely to settle in places that are less affected by climate change, thus having a significant impact on infrastructure and support systems - most notably, schools. International and intercontinental migration will also be complicated by a more localized form of relocation as "individuals, groups and businesses experiencing cascading climate impacts within their town or city are likely to be faced with a binary decision: stay or move" (Lawrence, Blacket, and Cradock-Henry, 2020, p.8). If they choose to stay, such groups will be forced to live with reduced levels of services in social, economic and educational sectors impacted by variables like sea level rise (SLR). With property taxes acting as the primary funding mechanism for public K-12 schools in the United States, districts located in areas of high SLR will experience budget shortfalls as homes are abandoned or claimed by the tides. For example, Shi and Varuzzo (2018) estimate that upwards of $35 billion of property will be flooded along coastal Massachusetts if SLR reaches five feet, suggesting that municipalities such as Boston can expect to experience "reduced property tax revenues and rising expenditure needs within a compressed time frame" (p.5). While climate change related SLR will, therefore, significantly impact school funding, it is likely to exacerbate issues of historic underfunding and segregation in many districts as well.

The aforementioned cascading crises are also of significance in the realm of teacher preparation. Changing demographics and alterations to traditional patterns of human geography (Parrish et. al., 2020; Baker et.al., 2020), teacher shortages, funding disparities and budget limitations (Knight, 2017; Baker, 2014), not to mention a continued failure to address gaps in emerging 21st century literacies (eg. equity literacy, computer literacy) will all be of significance to the next generation of teachers. University programs must respond to these new and persistent challenges in thoughtful and proactive ways while remaining staunchly committed to high quality preparation that addresses climate change related inequities and other secondary emergencies.

These are just a few examples of the consequences of climate change on the field of education. As a peer reviewed journal with a commitment to exploring broader systems related to power, equity, and liberation, we invite manuscripts for a special issue dedicated to exploring the ways in which teaching and learning sit at the intersection of the cascading crises and secondary emergencies of a warming world, in the US and beyond. In particular, the journal encourages submissions that illuminate the impact of climate change on educational topics such as (but not limited to) racism, segregation, child psychology, school funding, climate migration and climate refugees, food insecurity, educational infrastructure and teacher preparation - all with an eye on inequity. Please note that, while important, manuscripts related to climate change education and curriculum will not be considered for this issue.


This call is open to all. Proposals should be a word document containing the following: (a) tentative manuscript title including the denotation Fall CFP 2023, (b) author(s)’ names, affiliation(s), and email(s), and (c) a proposal (~500 words) of the planned contribution that includes a summary of the key issues regarding climate change within K-12 schooling and/or teacher education and/or questions the paper will address (relative to the special issue call). Note: Authors who do not submit a brief proposal by March 31, 2023 may still submit a full manuscript by the July 31, 2023 deadline. Please email your proposal to Matt Ridenour, Editor ().

Tentative Manuscript Timeline:

Proposal Submission Deadline: March 31, 2023
Editor’s Response: May 5, 2023
Submission Deadline For Full Manuscripts: July 31, 2023
First decisions regarding submitted manuscripts: September 4, 2023
Revised manuscript submission deadline: October 31, 2023
Publication: Mid-Late November 2023

Manuscripts should be submitted by May 1, 2023. Guidelines for manuscript submission, along with other relevant NWJTE information, are available at Policies. Manuscripts submitted to this special issue will be preliminarily reviewed by the primary editor. Those deemed suitable for journal publication will be distributed for a double blind review. Questions can be directed to Matt Ridenour, Editor ().


Baker, B.D. (2014). America’s most financially disadvantaged school districts and how they got that way: How state and local governance causes school funding disparities. Center for American Progress.

Baker, B. D., Srikanth, A., Cotto, R., & Green III, P. C. (2020). School funding disparities and the plight of Latinx children. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 28(135).

Bollinger, L. A., & Dijkema, G. P. J. (2016). Evaluating infrastructure resilience to extreme weather - the case of the Dutch electricity transmission network. European Journal of Transport and Infrastructure Research, 16(1), 214-239.

Feng, S., Krueger, A. B., Oppenheimer, M., & Schneider, S. H. (2010). Linkages among climate change, crop yields and Mexico–US cross-border migration. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 107(32), 14257–14262.

Knight, D. S. (2017). Are High-Poverty School Districts Disproportionately Impacted by State Funding Cuts? School Finance Equity Following the Great Recession. Journal of Education Finance, 43(2), 169–194.

Lawrence, J., Blacket, P., Cradock-Henry, N. (2020). Cascading climate change impacts and implications. Climate Risk Management, 29(1), 1-13.

Myers, N. (2002). Environmental Refugees: A Growing Phenomenon of the 21st Century. Philosophical Transactions: Biological Sciences, 357(1420), 609–613.

Parrish, R., Colbourn, T., Lauriola, P., Leonardki, G., Hajat, S., Zeka, A. (2020). A Critical analysis of the drivers of human migration patterns in the presence of climate change: A New conceptual model. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 17(7), 6036.

Shi, L., Varuzzo, A.M. (2020). Exploring municipal fiscal vulnerability to climate change. Cities, 100(1).

Walker, B. H., Abel, N., Anderies, J. M., & Ryan, P. (2009). Resilience, Adaptability, and Transformability in the Goulburn-Broken Catchment, Australia. Ecology and Society, 14(1).