Climate Change: an International Perspective: Science, Art & Activism
For the first time in the history of the planet humans are causing changes on a global scale – the Anthropocene. Scientists discovered global climate change, identified its human origins, and are forecasting change to every corner of the globe. There is overwhelming consensus about the facts underpinning our knowledge of climate change. Powerful forces are aligned against implementing changes necessary to mitigate climate impacts. By introducing uncertainty, and doubt about scientists’ motives, complexity and uncertainty have been turned into disagreement, undermining the public’s understanding and belief in climate science.
Understanding climate change requires an interdisciplinary approach that considers natural and social sciences, art, and the role of activism. A first step is to understand the often complex and sometimes perplexing science of climate change, in all its disciplines. Beyond the natural sciences, we can learn from history how past civilizations succumbed to climate change, we can further examine how the human brain limits our ability to process complex problems in a moral context. Just as importantly, we can explore how artists and musicians work with scientist to extend the expression of hard facts to intellectual and emotional enrichment.
The course will begin by building a foundation for understanding climate change causes and impacts, including atmospheric science, oceanography, chemistry, and ecology. First comes information on how the atmosphere works and mechanisms of climate alteration. Next, how the ocean works, atmospheric-ocean interactions, and their role in climate alteration. Then we will follow with key ecosystems and species in Arctic.
Interwoven with the science will be discussions of how Arctic states are working together to mitigate climate change impacts. Arctic indigenous peoples are also working with Arctic states to engage in the climate change discussion. The course consider the impacts of climate change to those nations and people, and also how they are contributing through literature, music, art.
Student Learning Goals
Students planning to enroll in this course should have substantial college-level preparation. That preparation should include completing at least one Natural World course and one English composition and writing course. Students will be reading, interpreting, and analyzing materials from a broad range of disciplines with guidance from the instructor. With good comprehension and writing skills, students from all schools and departments can be successful in this class. At the end of this course, the student will be able to:
- Explain climate change in the context of atmospheric and oceanic systems, with an emphasis on effects to humans and ecosystems.
- Describe how Arctic indigenous people understand and articulate climate change.
- Explain the role of Arctic Council members, permanent participants, and non-member observer nations in investigating, communicating, and mitigating climate change impacts.
- Describe and compare the advantages and disadvantages of climate policy strategies and their differing impacts on the environment and humans.
- Recognize the role of art, music, and activism in communicating science and affecting policy.
- Display a leadership role in the classroom community through discussion, group learning, and class presentations.