In this interview, we asked Matthew Aruch, Director of Indigenous Conservation Programs with the International Conservation Fund of Canada and career educator, to reflect on his session at CIES 2023 and discuss his nexts steps moving forward.

You organised the “Global Education during the Climate Crisis: Opportunities and Solutions from Research, Practice and Transnational Collaboration” session for Comparative and International Education Society (CIES) conference 2023. Can you tell us more about it and where the idea came from?

The sessions are the continuation of conversations about the global education community as both a mechanism for understanding and addressing climate action. I’ve been a part of the CIES community for more than a decade, had always worked in the space of sustainability. Given my role at EARTHDAY.ORG and the campaign for climate literacy, the panels were an opportunity to more explicitly coordinate conversations and actions around climate change within the CIES community.

This year, the conference’s theme was “Improving Education for a More Equitable World”, and focused on the goal of achieving educational equity and empowerment for learners and educators on local, national, regional, and global scales. During the conference, topics such as social justice, inclusivity, environmental sustainability, and comparative and international education were explored. These topics are essential in the pursuit of educational improvement, which is at the core of CIES’s mission.

CIES 2023 Closing Ceremony, Independence A, Grand Hyatt Washington, Washington, D.C., Feb. 22, 2023. Photo credit: CIES

What are you hoping for as the next steps from this session?

I hope that the network of those interested in learning and acting upon climate change is both deepened and widened. The sessions can be a place where 

  1. We can continue to learn about the important work we are doing as individuals and organizations
  2. Learn about ways to support one another’s work
  3. Learn about new initiatives from colleagues not in the panels
  4. Recruit and engage with new colleagues on our work and the work of our peers
  5. With respect to Teachers for the Planet Programme, the session was an opportunity to lay down some additional points on the roadmap toward COP 28 and continue to expand educator engagement. 

The Teachers for the Planet Programme, Co-led by LearningPlanet, the Aga Khan Foundation, and Teach for All, aims to empower and support teachers in their role as agents of change towards a sustainable future.

The programme puts educators at the centre of the educational response to our climate crisis, making explicit and concrete links between the education and climate change sectors for real impact at school- and system-level with tangible outputs that transform education towards climate action and leadership in the lead up to COP28.

What are some next steps for you with LearningPlanet?

I look forward to collaborating with LearningPlanet in my new role at ICFC and learning how to elevate Indigenous knowledge, perspective, and participation into the portfolio of LearningPlanet Initiatives. 

Matthew Aruch

Matthew Aruch, PhD

Matt is the Director of Indigenous Conservation Programs with the International Conservation Fund of Canada. Previously, he was the Director of Global Education with EARTHDAY.ORG. As a career educator, Matt has worked alongside communities, schools, universities, NGOs, and government agencies to develop, implement, and evaluate a comprehensive and diverse set of global programs.

Matt has worked with the University of Maryland College Park, George Washington University, the Protected Forest Association (Brazil), The University of Cuenca (Ecuador), the InterAmerican Development Bank, Boston Public Schools Office of English Language Learners, and Alexandria City Public Schools, among others. Matt earned Master’s degrees in International Education Policy from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and Elementary Education from Mary Washington College (MWC) as well as a bachelor’s degree in Biology from MWC.