A week of Climate Literacy

A week of Climate Literacy
It was with best intentions I decided to blog every day I was attending AGU last week. Five days, twenty pages of notes, and a minimum of 50 conversations later I realized I had only managed one blog and so here I am for the final brain dump. A number of climate literacy themes emerged throughout the week based on the content of the presentations I attended, the posters I visited and discussed and the conversations I had.

Collective Impact
There is a recognized need within the climate literacy community to work together in order to be truly successful with the goal of increasing climate literacy nationwide and globally. A paper released in 2011 outlines 5 conditions that support collective impact; Common Agenda, Shared Measurement Systems, Mutually Reinforcing Activities, Continuous Communication, and Backbone Support Organizations. The federal agencies NOAA/NSF/NASA have addressed this through the TRACE catalog and the recently established Climate Change Education Partnership Alliance. In addition to these networks which only include the federally funded projects, the CLEAN Network brings together anyone doing climate literacy work and is in a sense a network of networks.

Next Generation Science Standards
All of us in the realm of professional and curriculum development are trying to wrap our heads around the NGSS and how to retrofit our already existing curriculum and create new resources that support the NGSS. One of the big “ahas” coming out of this scientific conference was the availability of real scientific data out there for educators and students to use in the classroom. NGSS emphasizes students learning to think and act like real scientists and what better way than with real data? In addition to this, I engaged in some good conversations about the need to support teachers implementing NGSS in the coming years. As I look ahead to our big winter projects, going through our curriculum and looking for NGSS connections, as well as getting ready for another Summer Institute, I will be keeping these conversations in the forefront.

IMG 1093
Dana Brown Haine
UNC-Chapel Hill Institute for the Environment

There was a great session including presentations on evaluation in climate change education. Presentations went from the meta evaluation of multiple programs to individual student assessments of concept sketches. A poster I visited also looked at assessment of teacher learning based on their concept maps and I am excited to look into this for future Institutes.

Effective Climate Change Education
Of course we are all trying to figure out how to do this climate change education thing well and soon and I learned about some great models of best practice. I was quite taken with the TIMSI model that recognizes that self-efficacy (i.e I can do what is asked “I know of and can carry out actions that reduce GHG emissions”), Identity(i.e. This is a part of who I am “I am the kind of person who is concerned about climate change”) and values (i.e. I internalize community values “I deeply believe the values of the climate change community”) are important pieces of the climate literacy puzzle. Read more about the model and the awesome place based climate change education project implementing it in San Diego below.

climatemeetssocial(Click here to download PDF)

Interdisciplinary Climate Literacy
The last presentations I attended were focused on Geoscience Through the Lens of Art and were a great reminder of the importance of interdisciplinary education for making climate change interesting and for making it resonate on a person level. Bruce Molnia of USGS gave a great presentation showing his photography of Alaskan glaciers, alongside historic photos. David Lustick shared their youth climate change art contest where the winners are posted on the sides of Boston transit. Finally, Susan Buhr of ICEE presented on the climate change book club we led last year. Since the book club began a new genre of literature has emerged called Cli Fi, focusing on climate change fiction. Slides from the presentation can be viewed below.

Many of last week’s talks are available for online viewing here , currently free, using the promo code AGU13.

For another perspective on the climate literacy talks at AGU check out Dana Nuccitelli’s article.


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