The AMS Climate Studies Course Implementation Workshop was a tremendous success. This was my first experience with the AMS Education Program and the workshop was executed very well. The combination of noteworthy speakers and informative field trips made it a very positive, engaging environment. The attendees were armed with valuable resources to help tackle the challenge of teaching a brand new course or incorporating new material into existing courses. Many new websites, programs, initiatives and funding opportunities were presented to us. In addition to the arsenal of tools and resources we were given, the workshop provided indispensable insight and sense of community. The connections we made can be just as important as content in making us effective leaders on the front line of climate education.
In the fall of 2016, our institution is offering the AMS Climate Studies Course for the first time. The course incorporates real-world environmental data and contains climate change content, which has never been taught at our college. The real-time aspect of the course will be taken a step further, as I plan on incorporating guest lecturers into the course curriculum. Guest lectures will be given by National Weather Service forecasters and on-air meteorologists to give students a taste for the operational side of the field.
In preparation for teaching the course, a public opinion research study will be conducted to demonstrate the need for climate science education. Surveys will be conducted to access public perception of climate change, climate literacy, the risks posed by climate change, and support for adaptation policies across various regions in the United States. Survey results will be analyzed and presented. In addition, demographic statistics will be collected on age, gender, education level, political affiliation and occupation. A recent study by Lee et al. (2015)1 analyzed data from surveys conducted on an international scale and found that educational attainment is the single strongest predictor of climate change awareness.
The inspiration for this study came from our discussions at the AMS Climate Studies Diversity Project Workshop. Based on conversations with faculty from across the Unites States and Puerto Rico regarding climate literacy in their respective areas, I expect to find differences in responses among regions. The results of this study will have broader implications, as they will allow us to identify regions or populations that could benefit from better access to climate education. Gauging public perception on the matter will help increase effectiveness in the classroom. Having a better idea of the extent of climate knowledge, teaching methods can be improved. Future survey questions can then be altered or expanded upon and sample size can be increased to address more specific areas.