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Communicating Climate Change

Annotated resources for teaching climate change from interdisciplinary perspectives. Contributions are welcomed by the sponsor, NSF EPSCoR, and initial contributors Dr. Y. Houy, UNLV Honors College, and Dr. P. Starkweather, UNLV School of Life Science.

Teaching Tips

All of the resources in this libguide are useful for teaching and learning not only about communicating climate science and climate change risks to diverse audience, but also about climate science and the many grave risks of doing nothing in the face of possibly rapid climate change over the next century. Instructors interested in creating a unit, or a whole course on climate change have many resources to choose from in this libguide.

Rather than provide just sample syllabi, which are useful to look at, but fit few teaching and learning situations, this section shares a wider variety of teaching ideas, including syllabi, and ideas for creating learning modules that can be incorporated into a wide variety of courses.

Overview of Climate Change Science and Risks

For brief overviews of climate change science and/or risks, the section on “Scientific Visualization” has numerous resources which can be used to introduce various topics, including climate science data analysis, and how such data can lead to hypothesis about climate change risks. These visuals can also be used to create discussions about a wide variety of topics surrounding risks.

Sustainability as Concept

The section on “sustainability” provides an overview of the history of this concept. Depending on the time available to explore this concept, one or more documents and concepts can be read in class or as homework and discussed.

Communicating Climate Change

Students can explore the challenges of communicating climate change within a complex political and social landscape by analyzing various climate change websites in the sections “Communicating Climate Science”, “Climate Change Activism”, and “Climate Change Denial.” They can compare how climate change is framed in these sites.

Further activities can explore other ways of framing by reading some resources listed in “Framing Discussions.”

A challenging topic would be to explore how to frame climate change for skeptical audiences, or even climate change deniers after reading and exploring some of the resources in “Climate Change Denial.”

Climate Change Activism

Some students are interested in activism. The section on “Climate Change Activism” and “Art” has examples of different forms of activism, as do many of the other sections. Discussing the pros and cons of these different forms of activism could lead into student designing their own activist projects, or contributing productively and creatively to other activist projects.

Learning Through Games

The section on “Educational Games” lists numerous games and resources for finding further games. Students could play one or several games, and discuss what they learned through these games, and how well these games communicate various issues surrounding climate change. They could conceptualize improving these games or create their own games.

This section also had research-grade climate modeling software that can be used in science courses for climate modeling.

Analysis of Media Coverage

The section, “Media Coverage,” has resources that can help students and instructors keep current on ongoing media coverage of a wide range of climate change issues. Students can be asked to follow the news in one or more media outlet during the course to stay informed, or to analyze what or how issues are framed.

Geoengineering Controversy

As the effects of climate change become more apparent and worsen, geoengineering “solutions” will likely become more tempting. Any geoengineering has far-reaching effects, some of which are likely to be unknown. A unit on geoengineering using the resources in the “Geoengeneering Controversy” section can help students understand the issues and participate in these important debates. The TED talk by David Keith or can introduce students to the issues, while the annotated websites on geoengineering research and ethics can help students and instructors get a detailed account of the issues.

Photography

STEM education (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) has started to include art to become STE(A)M, as art is being seen as an important component in communicating STEM. The section “Art” includes many examples of photographer’s work in communicating the often difficult-to-depict changes in global warming. Students could analyze different photographers and photographs to see what strategies work in communicating climate change, and how photographs can help communicate climate science and risks. A creative component for a course could be taking photographs of local changes due to climate change, and creating an exhibit with informative captions.

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