Fostering Climate Resilience Through Education and Arts (2024-2025)


As climate hazards increase in intensity and frequency, resilience – the ability to tolerate, absorb or adjust to stressors – is needed more than ever. Fostering resilience can incorporate strategies to support ecological, social and personal resiliency. 

For example, to support ecological resiliency, community members can work to understand how local ecosystems are linked to ecological services like flood control and protection of fish habitats. To support social resiliency, diverse community sectors must participate in the formation and implementation of resiliency plans so that policies reflect the community's values, and the hazard burdens and resiliency benefits are equitably distributed. To support personal resiliency, individuals must feel connected to others in their community, fostering a sense of relatedness, support, hope and agency to work toward a future they want. 

As climate threats increase, it is more important than ever for young people to learn about and practice forms of resiliency, including through education and arts programs in schools. School curricula that build environmental literacy in support of climate resilience are vital to help students gain an understanding of socio-ecological systems, skills for engaging in environmental solutions and dispositions necessary for action now and into the future.

Project Description

This project team will refine a middle school resilience curriculum and create youth-led art and resilience story community events to expand the role of education, art and storytelling in fostering environmental literacy and resiliency. The team will analyze feedback from the 2023-2024 pilot year of a middle school resilience curriculum to see what needs to be changed, amended and improved, including outline a web-based landing page to help expand the use of the curriculum beyond North Carolina.

Building on the work of a previous team, team members will create and utilize a common resilience language that will involve a series of deep dives into ecological, personal and social resilience. They will then break into subteams to work on curriculum updates, website design and teacher/classroom curriculum support. 

Throughout the process, the team will collaborate with community partners and corresponding middle school educators (and their students) in Durham and Carteret Counties to plan and design community art and story-telling events on resilience and nature. In addition to organizing and leading events, the team will work to create a framework for gathering community feedback and evaluating events to refine plans for future iterations.

Anticipated Outputs

Updated middle school resilience curriculum; curriculum evaluation framework; community art and storytelling for resiliency events in Durham County and Carteret County; event evaluation methodology; series of resiliency fables to integrate into curriculum/classroom activities

Student Opportunities

Ideally, this project team will include 3-5 graduate students and 3-5 undergraduates with backgrounds in art, English, computer science, social sciences, education, public health, environmental science and/or biological sciences. 

Team members will learn to create environmental education curriculum components and co-create community events that use art and storytelling to explore resilience and nature. Students will gain experience authentically engaging with local partners and evaluating the success of community events with qualitative and quantitative instruments. Students will also be trained in cultural competence to understand the local cultural context and have the ability to adapt their approach to different individuals and organizations.

During the year, the team will meet weekly in a hybrid setting that includes both the Durham and Marine lab campuses. Students based in Durham will have the opportunity to travel to the Marine Lab in the fall or spring semester.


Summer 2024 – Spring 2025

  • Summer 2024 (optional): Evaluate curriculum feedback; develop list of curriculum updates; create timeline for year
  • Fall 2024: Update curriculum, create website, create evaluation template and plan community events
  • Spring 2025: Deliver community events; evaluate event success through qualitative and quantitative data collections and analysis


Academic credit available for fall and spring semesters; summer funding available

See earlier related team, Exploring Links Among Ecological, Social and Personal Resilience (2022-2023).


Image: Sunrise at the Duke Marine Lab in Beaufort, NC, by Jared Lazarus

Sunrise at the Duke Marine Lab in Beaufort, NC, by Jared Lazarus.

Team Leaders

  • Nicolette Cagle, Nicholas School of the Environment-Environmental Sciences and Policy
  • Elizabeth DeMattia, Nicholas School of the Environment-Marine Science and Conservation
  • Laura Martinez, Nicholas School of the Environment
  • Aurora McCollum, Nicholas School of the Environment-Marine Science and Conservation

/yfaculty/staff Team Members

  • Leslie Babinski, Social Science Research Institute-Center for Child and Family Policy
  • Lisa Campbell, Nicholas School of the Environment-Marine Science and Conservation

/zcommunity Team Members

  • Kathryn Stevenson, College of Natural Resources, North Carolina State University