Confronting climate denial in higher education to promote sustainable futures

Mark Baildon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


By many accounts, societies, their institutions, and citizens are not doing enough, and with the necessary urgency, to address the climate crisis. While higher education institutions have embraced the rhetoric of sustainability and contributed to climate science, the development of renewables and other climate solutions, and a host of policy reforms that aim for greater sustainable development, this paper argues that particular forms of climate denial have impeded more transformative directions in higher education. These denials include denying the depth and magnitude of the problems that the planet and people around the world are facing, the unsustainability of continued limitless growth, and a denial of the contexts, legacies, and discourses that have often served to impede important reforms in higher education. Using a climate denial lens, this paper examines the role of different forms of denial in higher education, such as the role climate denial funding sources in universities and how historical legacies and modern neoliberal discourses continue to limit possibilities for more transformative reforms in higher education. The paper concludes by sharing how these forms of denial might be addressed to advance a stronger response to the climate crisis.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Adult and Continuing Education
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2024


  • climate change denial
  • Climate crisis
  • neoliberal discourses
  • transforming higher education

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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