The concept of the planetary boundaries is a science-based approach to describe global Earth System changes. It identifies nine planetary boundaries on the basis of Earth system science. The Holocene is used as a reference for the quantification of the planetary boundaries thresholds. The boundaries delimitates a safe operating space of the Earth system in which humanity can evolve safely. Transgressing a planetary boundary threshold will lead the Earth system in an inhospitable state for human societies by triggering nonlinear, sudden environmental changes on a global scale. Thresholds are set based on earth system variables, while the position of a planetary boundary is a political decision defining and the question how much risk we are willing to take. The concept has become an important tool for political decisions.
The aim of this PhD project is an evidence-based and theory-guided development of teaching and learning environments on key aspects of the planetary boundary framework.
The research project is based on the model of educational reconstruction in which scientist and students conceptions are compared to develop effective teaching and learning material. As part of the project, an interview study with students from secondary schools has already been performed. The results show that students can understand that humans initiate different global environmental changes, but not that humans can set limit to those environmental modification. The students also have a pessimistic view towards the future. Scientists, on the other hand, believe in future developments that enables humanity to develop within the planetary boundaries.