A Call to Mathematicians for Environmental Care and Sustainability

A reflection by Sadam Hussain

As educators, we are in​creasingly confronted with the urgent need to address climate-related challenges on a global scale. This raises important questions for mathematics teachers like myself: How can we engage our students in environmental care and sustainability? How can we integrate these crucial concepts into our mathematics classrooms?

These questions sparked my interest and led me to attend a workshop at AKU-IED in celebration of the International Day of Mathematics. The workshop encouraged participants to share their experiences and insights into environmental sustainability and its integration into mathematics education. Through discussions and literature, I gained a deeper understanding of how mathematics can be linked to environmental sustainability.

Our environment encompasses everything around us – from the physical world we see and touch to the chemical reactions and intangible elements like air. However, environmental pollution is a pressing social justice issue that can be addressed through education. By educating our youth, we empower them to educate others and drive positive change in society.

Why should we educate young people about environmental sustainability? How does mathematics contribute to this cause? Which areas of mathematics can be integrated with environmental sustainability? These questions are at the core of our mission as educators. The youth are the future of our country, and they have the potential to change the mindset of their elders. They can leverage technology to raise awareness about environmental issues and inspire action.

Before introducing mathematical concepts, it is crucial to present real-life situations that help students understand the relevance of these concepts to the world around them. For instance, presenting a graph depicting water scarcity or pollution can help students understand graph components and interpretation. Teachers can engage students in discussions about the causes of these issues and challenge them to predict future trends based on current data. Similarly, teachers can use statistics on food consumption and scarcity to prompt discussions. For example, students can calculate the percentage of food required for a household based on the number of individuals, sparking conversations about food consumption and wastage at home. These activities encourage students to think critically about environmental issues and their impact on daily life.

While other disciplines like social studies and sciences also address environmental issues, integrating environmental sustainability into mathematics education enhances students' critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Mathematics offers a unique perspective, encouraging students to think contextually and develop solutions tailored to their environment.

Incorporating environmental sustainability into mathematics education presents challenges for teachers. It requires staying informed about global climate change, gathering relevant information, and designing tasks that integrate mathematical concepts with real-world environmental issues. Despite these challenges, the impact on students' learning and their role in caring for the environment makes it a worthwhile endeavor.

As educators, we have a responsibility to raise awareness about environmental issues and empower our students to take action. By integrating environmental sustainability into mathematics education, we can inspire a new generation of environmentally conscious citizens.

Visit Climate Change an​d Environmental Education page​