Frequently Asked Questions

Setting up an Academy 

1. Who can set up an Academy?

Teachers or students can set up an Academy. If students set up an Academy they will need the support of a teacher.

All the resources are provided for free.

2. Where can I set up an Academy?

Anywhere. Any nation, any city, any village. The materials are available in English, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Dutch, Bulgarian, Latvian and many other languages.

3. What age is the Academy designed for?

The Climate Academy is designed for students aged 16-19.

4. How many people are in an Academy?

There are normally about 12 students in an Academy.

There is no fixed number. However, with an Academy of less than 5 there would be fewer opportunities for collaboration and mutual support, and with an Academy of more than 12 it would be a challenge to sustain focus and cohesion.

5. How long does an Academy run for?

The Climate Academy programme runs for 2 years.

The first year is dedicated to establishing a proper systemic understanding of the sustainability crisis. The second year mobilises this understanding through civic service into the local, national or global community. Fully engaging both the head and the heart in these challenges of understanding and transformation, develop the skills of systems entrepreneurship.

The full programme could be fast-tracked into one year, or enlarged
into three years.

6. Why set up an Climate Academy?

Mainstream science describes the fact that we are in the middle of the 6th Mass Extinction Event, characterized by accelerating resource extractions, bio-diversity destruction and climate change. Yet, despite these profound systemic threats to the future of human civilization, education programmes in secondary schools across the world have only ever made the most timid and fragmentary responses.

7. What is CUTx Index?

The CUTx Index is the core science that the Climate Academy is centred on. It provides a clear and coherent focus to all the different projects that the different Academies develop. The importance of this Index becomes clearer and clearer as the students grapple with the systemic dimensions of the crisis. A full explanation of the Index is provided in the pedagogical materials.

The numbers of the CUTx Index are uniquely powerful. The reliability, clarity and importance of these numbers has been underlined by the world’s most eminent climate scientists. For example, Professor Kevin Anderson (former director of the Tyndall Centre), Dr Jian Liu (Chief Scientist, UNEP) & Dr Pavel Kabat (Chief Scientist, WMO).

8. But what if there is already a ‘Green Club’ in school?

Every project and initiative that promotes a greener planet has its value. Yet an honest look at most schools responses to the climate crisis shows that there is often little difference between the projects done in Primary School and those undertaken in Secondary.

Older students in secondary education are therefore quickly bored or cynical about green initiatives. The Climate Academy challenges mature students to respond to the climate crisis with a depth that matches their abilities and interests.

It also offers them a rare chance to think and act at a systemic level, something that traditional subjects and timetables cannot easily do.

9. How do I find the right students for the Academy?

A Climate Academy group might have some students who are academically gifted or inspired to make a change. It also offers the chance to some students whose skills are less visible in a school to discover and develop their talents.

If a teacher is establishing a Climate Academy, the collective experience and wisdom of the staffroom is essential in identifying the best mix of talents and interests, genders, backgrounds and nationalities. These students are then invited to form an Academy.

A fuller description of the best ‘fishing net’ for students can be found in the ‘Teacher Climate Guide’.

If the first impulse comes from the students, then this core group of young people is a great place to start (and they will probably have a  great instinct for which teacher might best support them).

10. Why is the Climate Academy selective?

The remaining carbon budgets for 1.5°C and 2°C are very limited. At current speeds of emissions we only have 5 years left before the budget for 1.5°C is spent, and 15 years left before the budget for 2°C is gone. There is simply no time left for slow, general syllabus reforms. It is therefore imperative to invest time and resources into projects that have the maximum leverage. The materials of the Climate Academy get straight to the key points of the crisis, and the selected students will have the drive and capacity to make the most of it. The design and delivery of projects around this material should be geared to have a wide and full impact on the whole school community. Malcolm Gladwell’s book, “The Tipping Point” (2000) has an important subtitle: “How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference”.

Running an Academy 

1. How much time does an Academy require per week?

The Climate Academy requires 1.5 hours per week of student time. It is a hybrid learning programme:

• 45 minutes of reading/research at home.
• 45 minutes together with the group and teacher.

As the programme progresses into the second year, the time at home and in the group becomes increasingly dedicated to designing and delivering projects.

2. When does the Academy happen?

Most Academies happen during lunchtime, because this is often the only moment inside a school day when all the students and the teacher are free.

It can also run after-school, or in the evening – especially if there is the opportunity to meet in a location outside of the school building. There are often better vibes when an Academy can meet in a fresh space.

3. What does an Academy do?

The first task of any Academy is to establish a proper understanding of the climate crisis, and the wider crisis of sustainability that humanity is facing. These essential co-ordinates are put in place in the first phase of learning through the “Student Climate Book”. This material provides the core stability for the students to develop their own particular projects and interests during the rest of the programme.

For example:

• Design and implement a podcast or video competition in school on the
importance of “tipping points”.

• Organise an event in school, in collaboration with an expert, on the
significance of global heating of 1.5°C and 2°C.

• Organise an event in a company, organization or institution about the
importance of the CUTx Index.

• Interview a scientist, politician or cultural figure about the dangers of
ecological illiteracy.

• Organise a street protest with the CUTx Index numbers for your nation
as the central message in the banners and speeches. Contact the local or
national press to cover the event.

• Develop, in collaboration with a Geography teacher, a module of lessons
for younger students that highlight the global injustice between the
emissions of the “Very High” and “Low” developed nations using the
CUTx Index.

• Reach out to neighbouring schools to invite them to set up their own

• Design and promote a social media campaign centred on the CUTx

• Develop a series of podcasts about a climate change issue that has
profound local implications (eg. Sea level rise, glacial melts, flooding)
and put it into a global context.

• Run a project alongside other Academies across the world. For example,
“The Writing’s on the Wall”.

4. Which authority endorses the certificate?

The Climate Academy is formally endorsed by the European School
system. They will certify each students’ engagement at the end of
the programme. An example of the certificate can be found here:

5. Who are NewsDecoder?

The Climate Academy works in close collaboration with NewsDecoder, a global news service for young people. This highly professional organization provides a range of support for Climate Academy students, such as interviewing, reporting and podcasting training resources and one-on-one mentoring with experienced journalists who guide the pitching, editing and publication of articles. Students also participate in themed webinars and writing competitions, and work in collaboration with partner schools from around the world to investigate big global issues.

Further details can be found on

6. Could the Academy be run inside a subject?

Yes. Perhaps a particular teacher has got the space and vision to run the Climate Academy programme inside one of their classes on the traditional timetable.

This is most often possible in a foreign language subject when the competences of the course can be delivered through any kind of content. The advantage of this approach is that the teacher and students have frequent and regular contact time. The danger of this approach is that the content simply becomes something compulsory and therefore the students become more passive participants.

7. Do different Academies from around the world sometimes meet?

In May 2022 the Academies from Belgium and Holland met together for the first “Climate Academy Summit”, hosted in Brussels. In the morning, different experts from the EU Commission, and other institutions, provided a range of insights and support. In the afternoons, students worked intensively on their various projects. Many more Climate Academy Summits will be organized in the future.

“Next Level Thinking and Action”

1. This all sounds great, however the management team in my school are not very supportive. What can I do?

Environmental issues have continually been seen as a marginal
concern. This is very odd. “Physics is not the last concern of an architect, but the first. Likewise, a proper understanding of the chemistry of our atmosphere and the biology of our biosphere cannot be the last concern of our policy makers, but the first”. (“Plato Tackles Climate Change”, p27)

The problem might be that the decision makers in a school do not fully understand the depth and threat of the crisis. This can make any environmental gesture seem as good as the next. When a lot of time is put into different individual actions, most commonly concerned with recycling or plastics, it can choke out the energy and space for more systemic responses.

When presenting the Climate Academy to the decision makers in school, it is important to underline how the Academy can provide coherence to all the different projects taking place already. It is then important to highlight all the extra dimensions that a Climate Academy brings.

2. What extra value does the Climate Academy bring?

The Climate Academy programme offers a unique level of systems understanding. Schools and universities provide specialized knowledge inside distinct subject areas. Centred around the CUTx Index, the “Student Climate Guide” is a holistic set of chapters that pulls together the critical cogs of the crisis into a clear systemic view.

This level of understanding is normally out of reach for students aged 16-19 because the material is too technically advanced and written in a formal academic context.

3. Why is a systems approach so important?

So much climate change thinking and action is based on individual thinking and actions. This can lead to a simplistic view of the crisis, and a strong sense of disempowerment and guilt. By orientating the students towards a systemic outlook and by mobilizing them into projects with a systems perspective, the Academy offers a creative and empowering framework for young people to engage with the crisis.

4. Do educational specialists agree with this approach?

In recognition of the poverty of most environmental education across the globe and the urgent need to move it forward, the Joint Research Centre of the EU Commission (JRC) published a sustainability competence framework in June 2022 – or “GreenComp” for short.

The introduction states, “This systemic change cannot be achieved only through political agreements, financial incentives or technological innovations, important and necessary though they are. Long-lasting change requires lifelong learning… Systemic change towards sustainability is a global necessity and a shared responsibility.”

The Climate Academy delivers many of these crucial skills that are so difficult to develop in the current systems of education: such as, ‘futures literacy’, ‘exploratory thinking’, ‘problem framing’, ‘political agency’, ‘collective action’, ‘critical thinking’, ‘systems thinking’ and ‘adaptability’.

2. What extra value does the Climate Academy bring?

The Climate Academy programme offers a unique level of systems understanding. Schools and universities provide specialized knowledge inside distinct subject areas. Centred around the CUTx Index, the “Student Climate Guide” is a holistic set of chapters that pulls together the critical cogs of the crisis into a clear systemic view.

This level of understanding is normally out of reach for students aged 16-19 because the material is too technically advanced and written in a formal academic context.

5. What is systems entrepreneurship?

–Work In Progress–