IEEE Computer Society Team
For many college students, anxiety typically centers on exams, GPAs, and career paths post-graduation. However, new research reveals an unexpected stressor for this demographic: emotional distress over the current climate crisis. For students pursuing a degree in software engineering, this anxiety over the state of the environment may go unnoticed as more pressing topics related to technology and development take precedence.
A Source of Conflict
Discussing the anxiety over the climate crisis and humanity’s effect on the environment is typically not a part of a software engineering classroom. The classroom experience for these students is generally structured around technology and coding, not environmental or emotional concerns. Unfortunately, classes focusing only on the technological elements overlook the impact that discussions on sustainability and biodiversity loss have on students’ mental health and well-being. Engineering curricula incorporating environmental discussions into the coursework help professors integrate real-world issues into the classroom, allowing students to voice their concerns and identify how they can be part of the solution.
The Educator’s Role
Software engineering programs require curricula modifications incorporating the potential for eco-anxiety and exploring sustainable, green tech solutions. However, achieving and enacting a singular solution to the current climate crisis is unrealistic. To prevent students from being overwhelmed by this reality, educators can encourage open discussion about the severity and complexity of the environmental crisis and validate students’ emotions and perspectives. Building discussions about this topic into the lesson plan and brainstorming ways to achieve sustainability will also help students address their emotional concerns as they seek solutions.
The stress that today’s climate crisis causes higher education students will only compound if not addressed. Educators can bring this important topic into the classroom while addressing the larger software engineering curricula by implementing a platform of open discussion that identifies the origins of students’ eco-anxiety and promotes solutions using green tech and sustainability. Download “Addressing Students’ Eco-Anxiety When Teaching Sustainability in Higher Education” to learn how to shift the classroom focus to a more purposeful discussion that validates student perceptions while promoting strategic solutions.
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