Changing Planet Study Group
Workshop Dates: June 28 - July 1, 2011 & July 19- July 22, 2010
The workshop was designed to lead to a conversation among participants shared via web resources and occasional virtual and in person meetings throughout the following year. This information is shared on the Cooling the Curriculum Portal. Nearly 50 faculty from U.S. colleges & universities attended the workshops.
Workshop Location: Dickinson College, Carlisle PA
There was no fee for participation in the workshop or for workshop materials. Breakfast, lunch and one group dinner will be provided to participants at no cost. Participants are responsible for the costs of their own travel, lodging and other meals.
Eligibility: Open to all faculty and teaching staff of any higher education institution, or other institutions of education. Dickinson faculty were eligible to receive a $1,000 stipend for participation.
Participation in the study group included the four day workshop, and a year-long learning community on climate change education.
About the Changing Planet Study Group:
The Changing Planet Faculty Study Group is a year-long learning community for building competencies for teaching about climate change across disciplinary boundaries at 4- and 2-year liberal arts colleges. Participants attended a four-day workshop in July 2010 or July 2011 on the campus of Dickinson College in Carlisle PA, collaborate with each other to promote climate change education during the proceeding academic year, and continue to network and share teaching resources as part of the learning community in subsequent years. The workshop emphasized participatory sessions for sharing expertise, experiences, lesson plans, exercises and ideas for teaching about climate change. Participants also had time to work individually and collaboratively on courses or course modules that they would later teach at their home campuses.
Mike Hulme’s book Why We Disagree About Climate Change was used to introduce and frame our discussions about how to teach climate change. During the workshop we explored questions such as how do different values, beliefs, and world views shape our ideas about climate change? What language is used by different writers and speakers to characterize climate change? What does their language communicate? Is the climate changing and, if so, why? What are the sources of evidence for human caused climate change? What are the social and economic drivers of changes in greenhouse gas emissions? What is the potential for abrupt climate change? Who and what are at risk from climate change? Can people and environmental systems adapt? Can we prevent ‘dangerous’ climate change? How?
Exploration of these and other questions was discussed with a focus on what we should teach our students and how we should teach them. Emphasis was placed on active, hands-on pedagogies. Participants worked with examples of data rich and critical thinking exercises for their students; learned about high quality information and data resources to use in their teaching; shared syllabi, lesson plans and pedagogies with other participants; and created a plan for developing a new course or revising an existing course.
Workshop agenda, resource materials, participants lists and materials can be downloaded from the networking portal created as as result of the workshops.
Study Group Facilitators:
Neil Leary, Director of the Center for Sustainability Education at Dickinson College, has been a participant in the science assessments of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) since 1992 and is a member of the IPCC editorial board. He has led studies of climate change vulnerability and adaptation in Africa, Asia and Latin America, and directed programs to build competencies of developing country scientists to participate in global change research. He teaches courses on climate change causes, consequences and solutions.
Jeff Niemitz, Professor of Earth Sciences at Dickinson College, teaches the Global Climate Change science course at Dickinson. His research with students includes climate change in 200 million year old rift basin sediments to inform abrupt climate change in the near future and examining long-term stream records for flood magnitude and frequency changes due to recent climate forcing and their effect on stream sediment fluxes including pollutants to the Chesapeake Bay. He is the recipient of the College’s Ganow Prize for inspirational teaching.
Ashton Nichols is the Walter E. Beach '56 Chair of Sustainability Studies and Professor of English, Dickinson College. Palgrave Macmillan published his Beyond Romantic Ecocriticism: Toward Urbanatural Roosting in March 2010. His earlier work includes Romantic Natural Histories: Wordsworth, Darwin and Others (Houghton Mifflin, 2004) and A Romantic Natural History: 1750–1859, a hypertext project recognized for excellence by The New York Times, the BBC, and M.I.T. He teaches courses on ecocriticism and nature writing.
Kjell Enge, Professor of Anthropology at Dickinson College, specializes in agricultural and food production systems in developing countries and teaches courses that examine how societies adapt to changing environments, particularly the availability of water. His work also examines the social and political systems that control resource distribution and mitigate conflict as the availability of resources change over time. His teaching incorporates the work of anthropologists who have provided detailed ethnographic data on how traditional cultures are being affected by climate change and their strategies to mitigate the negative effects and re-establish stable food production systems.