Climate Solutions Curriculum Committee
NEW! CLIMATE CHANGE EDUCATION INITIATIVE
NCSE has developed a Climate Change Education Initiative to build the intellectual capital to address the climate challenge. The ongoing multi-institutional climate education efforts that are part of this initiative were all initiated through the work of the CEDD Climate Solutions Curriculum Committee. Visit the initiative's homepage.
AUGUST 2009 UPDATE
The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded NCSE a $1,666,820 grant for Creating a Learning Community for Solutions to Climate Change. The project aims to build a nationwide learning community, CAMEL (Climate, Adaptation, and Mitigation e-Learning) to transform climate education into an interdisciplinary enterprise including mitigation and adaptation. CAMEL will engage educators and scholars to develop curriculum at the undergraduate level based on the best available research and most effective teaching methods. It will also focus on faculty development, community building, and the cyberinfrastructure to disseminate innovative strategies.
The project is being spearheaded by NCSE's Council of Environmental Deans and Directors (CEDD) with leadership from David Hassenzahl, University of Nevada, Las Vegas; Arnold Bloom, University of California, Davis; Barry Benedict, University of Texas, El Paso; Stephanie Pfirman, Barnard College, Columbia University; Jean MacGregor, Evergreen State College; Andy Jorgensen, University of Toledo and recently NCSE's Senior Fellow; and David Blockstein, CEDD Executive Secretary.
The three-year project will focus initially on expanding the curricular materials on climate science and solutions available to undergraduate students. Content will include an interdisciplinary treatment of climate change causes and consequences and, more importantly, solutions relevant to regional, national and global scales. Once the project is completed, a virtual tool chest of teaching and learning resources on climate solutions will be freely available online for use by universities and colleges nationwide.
Visit the NCSE CAMEL website for more details on the project. David Blockstein's PowerPoint and video of David Hassenzahl's presentation from the 2009 CEDD Summer Program Conference are also available. For more information, contact Ginny Brown, CAMEL Project Director, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 202-207-0020.
JUNE 2009 UPDATE
NASA's Global Climate Change Education program awarded NCSE a $149,536 grant for the "Creation and Dissemination of an Interdisciplinary Undergraduate General Education Course on Climate Change" in May 2009. The project is developing a robust curricular package for a general education course on climate change that universities and colleges across the country can readily adopt and adapt. It will produce a virtual tool chest of curricular modules and resources on how to teach about climate change using the latest NASA Earth observation data, Earth system models, and visualization tools.
The project is being spearheaded by CEDD. The project's initial phase will involve offering trial courses at six member institutions, Florida A&M University, Unity College, University of California, Davis, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, University of Richmond, and University of Texas, El Paso. In its second phase, the project will be expanded to create and test climate change curriculum at fourteen institutions across the country. Once the project is completed, the general education course will be freely available online for use by other universities and colleges.
- Survey of climate curriculum already in practice and other resources here.
- Article from The Chronicle of Higher Education, "Colleges Get Greener in Operations, but Not in Teaching," here.
- NCSE Report on "Higher Education in Texas Confronts the Climate Change Challenge" here.
- New 'Global Classroom' on Sustainable Development here and here.
- Profiles of "climate resiliant" cities from The World Bank here.
- Article about SmartGridCity here: Boulder, CO will become the first city in the U.S. to run off a smart grid.
- Climate Change Channel from Energy Policy TV here.
- American College & University Presidents Climate Commitment here.
BACKGROUND ON COMMITTEE
In January 2008, recognizing the likely duplication, and reduced efficiency of many independent initiatives scattered over as many institutions, CEDD representatives prioritized a coordinated approach to rapidly develop high quality courses, course sequences and curricular material to educate majors and general students about climate change, its consequences, and its solutions.
As a result, a CEDD Climate Solutions Curriculum Committee has been formed to develop the means for colleges and universities to prepare their students to tackle climate change. The Committee currently has 18 individuals from 15 schools and one outside organization (see attachment). The Committee is meeting by conference call every two weeks and convened at the three-day CEDD summer meeting on July 15-17, near Portland, Oregon which will be focused entirely on the theme of Climate, Sustainability and Environmental Programs. As illustrated below, members of the CEDD Curriculum Committee are already active on their own campuses and in broader efforts .
The CEDD Climate Solutions Curriculum Committee has identified three general target audiences (each with specific target communities) of students with different needs:
- “Generalists” – the average student who will not become an environmental professional, but needs to understand climate change, its causes, consequences and solutions as part of becoming an informed and active citizen. These needs can be served by curricular modules in existing courses ranging from science to the humanities (such as the state of Washington Curriculum for the Bioregion headed by committee member Jean MacGregor), or by courses targeted to non-majors (such as a general education course taught by committee member Arnold Bloom at the University of California-Davis).
- “Immersers” – students majoring in an environmental field who need to understand climate change as the context that they will be operating in regardless of their environmental career – these students will need at least a full one or two-semester dedicated course (such as one that is being developed by committee member Monty Hempel at the University of Redlands).
- “Professionals” – students whose career pathway will center on evaluating and predicting the influence of climate change and developing and implementing solutions for mitigation and adaptation. These students need to take a program of many courses over one or two years (such as the climate minor being developed at the University of Montana by a 25-member group of faculty, including committee member Nicky Phear).
The Committee believes that each group requires a multidisciplinary or “whole systems approach” which recognizes climate change in the context of the full range of human behaviors. Particularly important is the development of curricular material that crosses the boundaries between key disciplinary areas like ecology/environment, business, technology, and policy. Further, each approach must also be a “solutions” approach that informs student about what they can do to address climate change. There is agreement among our group that the courses they are involved with are the exception rather than the norm in higher education today and that curricular resource material is largely lacking at the college and university level.
CEDD and NCSE also:
- have strong relations with many other leaders in climate solutions education ,
- participate in climate education projects at the pre-college level ,
- provide considerable information about climate change through our Earth Portal and the ongoing website from our recent conference on Climate Change: Science and Solutions; and,
- are undertaking projects to identify core competencies in environmental education, assess the practices of interdisciplinary degree-granting programs, and survey environmental alumni along their career pathways.
For each target audience, the CEDD Climate Solutions Curriculum Committee has identified five types of needed activities:
- Review and assessment of:
- the needs and interest of students of different types and majors; the needs of the market place and prospective employers in preparing students for the jobs relevant to climate change;
- existing courses and curricular resources;
- the types "change resistance" facing new curriculum and “best practices” is the introduction of new modules, classes, and courses; and,
- taxonomies for organize materials of various kinds for different majors. 
- Identify and develop core competencies, key learning, outcomes and curricula at different levels, with testing at participating schools, for:
General basic course on climate change for all students
Courses for environmental majors and minors
Specialized courses in preparation for careers of various types
National climate science and management curricula
Creation of majors and minors related to climate mitigation and adaptation
Strong interdisciplinary programs; relating climate change to all disciplines
Course modules that can be added as appropriate to existing courses
Distance learning featuring leading scientists, practitioners and policymakers.
“Teaching teachers” about climate change.
Bringing together groups of faculty and curriculum developers through workshops, training sessions, and creating ongoing networks.
Career initiating opportunities in climate change; e.g., student internships, service-learning, and other experiential opportunities with state and federal agencies, corporations, and NGOs.
Coordinate and collaborate internationally with the global effort to create curriculum on climate change and adaptation.
Although some schools are already doing pieces of this effort, there is an urgency that behooves a collaborative effort. It will be more effective for CEDD to catalyze the community to work collectively than for each school to do their own, particularly as many schools don’t have the resources to do this alone.
CEDD CLIMATE SOLUTIONS CURRICULUM COMMITTEE
- Leonard Berry, Florida Atlantic U.
- Arnold Bloom, U. of California, Davis
- Lakhdar Boukerrou, Florida Atlantic U.
- Jim Elder, Campaign for Env. Literacy
- Marty Garrel, Adelphi University
- David Hassenzahl, UN Las Vegas
- Dave Johnson, SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry
- Lucile Johnson, Vassar College
- Michelle Land, Pace University
- Jean MacGregor, Evergreen State College
- Alan McIntosh, University of Vermont
- Leslie Patrick, CUNY - Hunter College
- Arianne Peterson, Arizona State University
- Stephanie Pfirman, Barnard College
- Nicky Phear, University of Montana
- Thomas Piechota, UN Las Vegas
- KJ Reddy, University of Wyoming
- Mick Womersley, Unity College
 This effort is concurrent, but not yet connected with, the more than 400 university presidents who have signed onto the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment. At present, efforts to change facilities and operations seem to be exceeding efforts to modify curriculum.