Engaging Multiple Student Groups in On-line Climate Change Consortium (Climate Change Education: collaboration, multiple perspectives, and messaging.)
Stephen Lane and Jeffrey Yuhas taught their first climate consortium course in Massachusetts for a group of public school (Concord-Carlisle High School and Weston High School) and independent school (Concord Academy and Middlesex School) students in the Fall of 2011. 11 students from the four schools met two nights a week. The seminar format allowed the students to express thoughts and opinions that varied, albeit slightly, across the four schools. Their results were presented at the 2012 AMS Annual Meeting.
There were two key components to the 2011 course:
1. Development of social media as a teaching and collaboration tool. This allowed the discussion to continue after the evening's session was over and encouraged students to share individual explorations. 2. A comprehensive approach to the topic, including economics, policy, and messaging as well as science.
Lane and Yuhas have expanded and refined the model first used in 2011: With the goal of including a wider variety of student perspective, the use of social media was expanded in 2013 to facilitate discussion and learning with students from multiple states in different classrooms. Social media was used to share reading and other course materials, as well as to facilitate periodic teleconferencing among various groups.
The purposing of expanding geographically in this manner isn't merely to do it because it can be done. Doing so furthers the purpose of the original course: A wider variety of perspectives expands the comprehensive approach to climate change. The ability of the students to understand multiple perspectives and priorities furthers their ability to understand the importance of shaping a message to reach diverse audiences. Beyond the two host schools, there is the potential for other schools, nationally and internationally, to join the consortium in the fall of 2013.
Different schools can bring different perspectives on the urgency of climate change issues. Concord-Carlisle High School in Massachusetts has experienced several record meteorological extremes. Morristown-Beard School in New Jersey was shut down for 8 days following Hurricane Sandy in 2012. Louisiana is still recovering from the effects of Hurricane Katrina and struggles with flooding of the Mississippi River. The Marshall Islands have atolls that are in danger of being completely submerged by ocean levels rising.
It is with hope that the Fall 2013 Climate Consortium is just the next step. The authors look forward to continuing to grow the program in the future.