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Climate change from an international perspective – a new campus course offering!

Students of international perspectives of climate change
Over 30 undergraduates representing disciplines from across campus participated in the University’s second offering of a new course on the international perspectives of climate change. Some of the students pose here with Professor B. Pavia (far left).

March 31, 2017

In Winter Quarter 2017, Professor Bob Pavia taught an innovative course jointly offered by the Honors Program and the Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies – a look at climate change from a truly international perspective. The new course, ARCTIC 391/JSIS 391/HONORS 394 Climate Change – An International Perspective: Science, Art and Activism, brings together students from across disciplines including international studies, engineering, political science, environmental design, art, accounting, and biology.

The course explores the science of climate change in the context of social and political restraints. It further explores the role of art and activism in communicating climate change impacts. Important to international studies is the discussion of how the Arctic nation-states including Canada, the United States, Russia, the Scandinavian countries, Arctic Indigenous peoples, and Asian observer nation-states are working together to address environmental issues in the Arctic via the Arctic Council.

“Studying the arctic has expanded my largely U.S-centric understanding of climate change by providing a tangible example of the ways in which culture, politics, and the economy are inextricably tied to the environment,” noted Ava Lewis, a senior in Biology. “The diversity of peoples and accelerated rate of climate change there has necessitated the intersection of science and policy to a degree not seen in the rest of the world. Thus an understanding of the arctic will become more and more vital as the impacts of climate change are felt around the world.” As a result of taking this new climate change course, Ava is registering for the minor in Arctic Studies.

As part of the Jackson School of International Studies’ minor in Arctic Studies (in partnership with the School of Oceanography), five of the National Resource Centers in the Jackson School,* including the Canadian Studies Center, partnered with UW Honors in 2016 to develop this new course on climate change providing a truly international perspective on a critical global issue. Dr. Robert Pavia taught the course for the second time this Winter Quarter with enrollment over capacity.

“Developing this course provided me with an opportunity to combine interests in the role of science in public policy with rapidly emerging questions about the impacts of climate change on the Arctic and its people,” reflected Dr. Pavia. “Students are drawn to questions of how to art and activism can alter public perceptions about science. Students also bring to class a profound sense of concern about their future in a changing world – brought into sharp focus this quarter as a new U.S. political reality takes hold.”

Pavia is an Affiliate Associate Professor and Lecturer in the School of Marine and Environmental Affairs and an Affiliate Faculty for the Arctic Studies Minor. His research focuses on identifying emerging risks in marine transportation and the role of information during environmental disasters in the U.S. and Canadian Arctic.

This course was made possible, in part, by Title VI grant funding from the Office of Postsecondary Education, International and Foreign Language Education, U.S. Department of Education in response to the current theme, “International Education: Investing in Our Global Future.” Supporting centers include the Canadian Studies Center, Center for Global Studies, East Asia Center, the Ellison Center for Russia, East European and Central Asian Studies, and the Center for West European Studies. These National Resource Centers, housed in the Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies, are dedicated to strengthen the capability and performance of America education via supporting instruction in fields (such as international responses to climate change) needed to provide a full understanding of world regions, countries and peoples.