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Leslie A. Duram

Abstract

Previous research indicates the importance of interdisciplinary approaches when teaching about climate change. Specifically, social science perspectives allow students to understand the policy, economic, cultural, and personal influences that impact environmental change. This article describes one such college course that employed active-learning techniques. Course topics included community resilience, environmental education, historical knowledge timeline, climate justice, social vulnerability, youth action, science communication, hope versus despair, misinformation, and climate refugees. To unify these concepts, engaging activities were developed that specifically address relevant individual, local, state, national, and international climate resilience themes. Students assessed their personal climate footprint, explored social/cultural influences, wrote policy requests to relevant local/state government officials, studied national policy options, and learned about previous global initiatives. The course culminated in a mock global climate summit, which was modeled on a Conference of the Parties (COP) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). This final activity required each student to prepare a policy report and represent a nation in negotiating a multilateral climate agreement. It is accepted that climate change education must include physical data on the impacts of anthropogenic emissions. It is also essential that students appreciate the interdisciplinary nature of climate adaptations, become hopeful about addressing change, and gain skills necessary to engage as informed climate citizens.

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