Improving Climate Change Literacy and Promoting Outreach in an Undergraduate Atmospheric Sciences Program

Janel Hanrahan Department of Atmospheric Sciences, Northern Vermont University–Lyndon, Lyndonville, Vermont

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Jason Shafer Department of Atmospheric Sciences, Northern Vermont University–Lyndon, Lyndonville, Vermont

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Abstract

Mitigation of human-caused climate change is essential to lessen the extent of future negative impacts, but many people are not aware of the urgency of the situation. For meaningful climate change action to be realized, accurate information must be conveyed by experts to nonexperts. Improved climate change literacy may thus be achieved in two ways. First, we must increase the number of scientists who are knowledgeable about climate change, and second, we must encourage these experts to engage with nonexperts and provide them with adequate resources to do so. Such efforts are currently being implemented in the undergraduate Atmospheric Sciences/Meteorology program (ATM) at Northern Vermont University–Lyndon. To increase knowledge, all ATM students regardless of career pathway are required to take courses that cover the science of human-caused climate change. They are then encouraged to communicate this knowledge to the public. Students are creating informational content for a department-run website and are regularly given opportunities to engage with the public at local schools and events. The results of these curricular and extracurricular changes are promising. Student interest in the topic of climate change has increased and they have demonstrated a heighted sense of responsibility to engage with the public about this challenging topic.

© 2019 American Meteorological Society. For information regarding reuse of this content and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).

CORRESPONDING AUTHOR: Janel Hanrahan, janel.hanrahan@northernvermont.edu

Abstract

Mitigation of human-caused climate change is essential to lessen the extent of future negative impacts, but many people are not aware of the urgency of the situation. For meaningful climate change action to be realized, accurate information must be conveyed by experts to nonexperts. Improved climate change literacy may thus be achieved in two ways. First, we must increase the number of scientists who are knowledgeable about climate change, and second, we must encourage these experts to engage with nonexperts and provide them with adequate resources to do so. Such efforts are currently being implemented in the undergraduate Atmospheric Sciences/Meteorology program (ATM) at Northern Vermont University–Lyndon. To increase knowledge, all ATM students regardless of career pathway are required to take courses that cover the science of human-caused climate change. They are then encouraged to communicate this knowledge to the public. Students are creating informational content for a department-run website and are regularly given opportunities to engage with the public at local schools and events. The results of these curricular and extracurricular changes are promising. Student interest in the topic of climate change has increased and they have demonstrated a heighted sense of responsibility to engage with the public about this challenging topic.

© 2019 American Meteorological Society. For information regarding reuse of this content and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).

CORRESPONDING AUTHOR: Janel Hanrahan, janel.hanrahan@northernvermont.edu
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