195 Studies on Climate Change and Adaptation at Virginia State University, Delaware State University, and Morgan State University: Curriculum Development and International Experience

Tuesday, 8 January 2013
Exhibit Hall 3 (Austin Convention Center)
Shobha Sriharan, Virginia State Univ., Petersburg, VA; and G. Ozbay and C. Fan

Handout (8.7 MB)

With the support of a USDA NIFA Grant (2011-2013), Virginia State University (VSU, Dr. Shobha Sriharan) is partnering with Delaware State University (DSU, Dr. Gulnihal Ozbay) and Morgan State University (MSU, Dr. Chunlei Fan) for developing a course on “Climate Change and Adaption” at their respective institutions. The activities include: (i) Faculty development workshop on climate studies by American Meteorological Society (AMS); (ii) Course contents development using AMS climate studies course manual and SimCLIM software (ClimSystems Ltd., New Zealand); (iii) International classroom experience for students through a course, “Climate Change and Adaptation Response Science” at the University of Sunshine Coast (USC), Australia, and (iv) Faculty development through hands-on exercises in the use of software, SimCLIM at USC, Australia.

In May, 2012, the faculty members from the three partner institutions (VSU, DSU, and MSU) received one week intensive training in preparation of the “Climate Change and Adaptation” course materials, with support from AMS. Training included lectures from the climate scientists, field trips to NASA Goddard Space Center, NOAA Weather Center and the Center for the Atmospheric Studies in Howard University. These activities enabled the faculty members to learn the logistics for delivery of classroom and laboratory instruction. Initially, the course on Climate Change Studies and Adaptation will be offered through the existing course, Independent Study (AGRI 410) in fall 2012 at VSU. Formal teaching of the course, “Climate Change and Adaptation Science (AGRI 350) will be offered by VSU in spring 2012. The partner institutions, DSU and MSU will implement the Climate Change and Adaptation course in spring 2012. Formal approval of this course is in process through the Curriculum Committee at DSU and MSU.

Instruction will focus on the physical basis for the earth's climate system. This will include: (i) Climate historic information (NOAA Climate Services, U.S. and World Weather Data); (ii) Climate Variability (Climate Forcing Data, Drought Monitor, and NOAA El Nino); (iii) Climate Change Assessment, (iv) Information and Model Application (2007 IPCC Report Summary, NCAR Climate Model Predictions, NASA, Climate Model Predictions, and NCAR Community Earth System Model). To further enhance their teaching capabilities, Drs. Sriharan and Ozbay participated in the workshop, (Enhancing Diversity in Climate Change Science and Application: from Models to Adaptation) hosted by the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Boulder, Colorado (July 30-August 2, 2012). To expose and motivate the students from these partner HBCUs were provided opportunity to participate in the Diversity Workshop at NCAR. This workshop provided the opportunity to these faculty members to learn to gain hands-on experience in the use of GIS (Geographic Information System) for working with global climate change data in ArcGIS. In addition, the workshop provided information on emissions, air quality, hydrology, weather, climate and human health, regional climate modeling, integrated modeling of urban heat risks, dynamics of vulnerability and urban water systems, modeling of urban heat risk, extreme weather in a changing climate, and weather decision for sustainability.

International experience in Climate Change Studies was provided to the students from the participating institution through the course, “Climate Change and Adaptation Response Science”, at the University of Sunshine Coast (USC), Australia (July 6-15, 2012). This intensive course enabled the students to earn three credits from USC. The course provided the students opportunities for interactive learning by using the software SimCLIM. This software enables using data on climate change for determining interactions between weather and land features such as plants and soils. Students had opportunities to expand their cultural interaction with Australian students by discussion on simulated climate models and regional climate difference. A simulated island in the South Pacific region was used in this case study to assess the impacts of climate change between 1990 and 2100 by using the SimCLIM software. The sensitivity to climate change was examined for coastal erosions, precipitation, sea-level rising and extreme weather events. The student groups (cohorts of American and Australian) further discussed the adaptation mechanisms of local water supplies, economics development, and tourisms. Finally, this international experience will be transferred back to the respective institutions for climate change education. Additional training was provided at USC to the faculty mentors (Dr. Sriharan, Dr. Ozbay, and Dr. Fan) from the three institutions in the application of SimCLIM for instruction of the Climate Change and Adaptation course.

The enthusiasm to introduce and implement the course on Climate Change and Adaptation is evidenced by the participation of the faculty members in the NASA-supported Workshop on Climate Change Curriculum and Faculty Development at Elizabeth City State University (August 6-10, 2012). In essence, the partner HBCUs in Virginia, Delaware, and Maryland are making efforts to enhance their curriculum by introducing the newly emerging area of climate change science.


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