161A Living with Climate Change: An Undergraduate Course for Western Alaska

Monday, 11 January 2016
Todd A. Radenbaugh, University of Alaska, Dillingham, AK

Handout (15.4 MB)

Over the past decades the remote communities in Western Alaska have increasingly been influenced by weather variability and extreme geographic events attribute to climate change. Because of this, most Alaskans have come to accept the fact that the climate is changing. Nonetheless, many Alaskans desire to know more about the current science of climate change and the range of potential influences to ecosystems and their subsistence way of life. The University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) College of Rural and Community Development (CRCD) serves the educational needs of this region and annually teaches undergraduate lab based science courses, mostly through four small rural campuses located in Bethel, Dillingham, Kotzebue, and Nome. In the Fall 2015 semester, a UAF pilot course entitled: Climate Change in Western Alaska was offered across Alaska. Given the low human population density, limited road network, and expensive transportation of the region, the course was offered using modern distance education methods. The course was based on AMS Climate Studies textbook and curriculum, but used local examples and case studies that were tailored to western Alaska. Western Alaska hosts rapidly changing environment that are in need of baseline data. A courses such as this train students to be important recorders of climate change and assist in observational research activities such as UAF's Scenarios Network for Alaska and Arctic Planning (SNAP) program and Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium's Local Environmental Observer (LEO) Network. Students at UAF rural campuses live daily interacting with weather extremes so they are ideal candidates to cooperate with organizations who need local eyes on the rapid changes occurring.

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