Climate Change, Communication, Science, and Action
September 3-October 15, 2019
Cost: $60 (see more details below).
Description: This course is for anyone interested in taking actions to limit greenhouse emissions as part of a network of professionals and students from around the world. Short pre-recorded lectures, readings, and discussion questions cover not only the basics of climate change science and impacts, but also the subtleties of climate change communication. We then launch into climate change actions, from what individuals can do at home to global policy agreements. Using Drawdown’s comprehensive list of climate change solutions, we help you focus on a climate action that you can achieve during the course, and then provide a framework to help you plan continuing, post-course climate engagement.
Whereas participants will enjoy the research-based, engaging, action-oriented lectures and readings, the course is also an unparalleled opportunity to share climate perspectives and actions with interesting students and professionals globally.
- Material. Pre-recorded video lectures, assigned readings, discussions, and quizzes.
- You can access course lectures, readings, and discussion assignments at any time during the course, but we encourage you to keep up with the assignments for any one week. Course participants may complete assignments alone or with other students.
- Platform. We will host this course on edX Edge, where you will find all required videos, readings, assignments, and discussions.
- Optional Webinars. We will host optional webinars each week that will be recorded and posted for those course members who are unable to attend.
- Optional social media groups. We will use closed Facebook and WeChat groups as optional discussion platforms where course instructors and participants can post resources, pose questions, and “meet” others with similar interests. Participants may also choose to form their own community groups on Facebook, WeChat, or platforms like WhatsApp.
Participants: Cooperative Extension Educators, Master Volunteers, state and local government, land-trusts and other non-profits, and others interested in an introduction to climate change science and in how to communicate effectively about this important topic. Available to students in any country. Lectures and readings are in English.
Cost: $60 fee. Options available to pay a higher fee to sponsor another student. Those for whom $60 would constitute a hardship may pay a lower fee, and those who have no ability to transfer funds or to pay may apply for a scholarship. You will find more details in the registration form where you will choose among payment options.
Educational approach: The course is based in three principles: (1) Learning is social: we learn effectively within a social context, thus networking and exchange of ideas among participants is crucial; (2) Learning can lead to innovation: course participants can work together building on the course materials to develop new ideas for environmental education; and (3) Learning can foster practice change: we will discuss how course ideas and new ideas emerging in this course can transfer to collective and individual climate change action. The course uses the edX edge learning management system and optional closed groups on Facebook to facilitate idea and resource exchange.
- Increase their understanding of the basics of climate change science and communication and action strategies.
- Make new connections and share resources as part of an online network of Extension educators, master volunteers, university students and employees, and other professionals, volunteers, and interested individuals.
- Take a climate change action during the course
- Reflect on their action and create a plan for future action
Certificates: Participants who complete weekly assignments along with a course project will earn a Certificate of Professional Development. Weekly assignments include watching lectures, readings, discussion posts, and quizzes. The course project is creating a climate change action plan.
Format. You will learn about basic climate change science, impacts, communication strategies, and actions. You will participate in weekly online discussions, complete short quizzes, and compete a final project in which you apply what you have learned to your work (develop a climate change action plan).
Plan on an average of 3-4 hours a week of work during the course. We encourage you to form a team of colleagues or friends to take the course together.
Benefits to the Learner. You will learn about climate change science, communication, and action from experts and apply this knowledge to local climate action projects. You will also have the opportunity to share your ideas and projects with other participants and learn from each other. You can use the materials for proposal writing, program development, and to enhance your career.
Course Participation. One of the most important benefits of online learning is the opportunity to meet and support colleagues. Please share your thoughts about course materials, your practices, your successes, and challenges you have faced when dealing with climate change issues. Visit the edX Edge discussion boards (required) and course Facebook group (optional) often and comment on your fellow participants’ posts.
This course features lecturers from Cornell Institute for Climate Change Solutions, the Civic Ecology Lab, Cornell Department of Communication, and Cornell Cooperative Extension.
Week 1: Climate Change Science (September 3-September 9)
What is climate change? What evidence do we have that it is happening? What are some key climate change impacts? Week 1 provides an overview to basic climate change science and impacts.
Topics: Course introduction, Climate Change 101, Climate Change Evidence, Climate Justice, Introduction to Drawdown, Climate Change and Plastic, Climate Change and Public Health, Climate Change and Water, Climate Change and Food
Week 2: Climate Change Action (September 10-September 16)
Week 2 introduces you to different scales and types of climate action, from individual to collective and mitigation to adaptation. We cover how climate actions might spread across a network and describe the recent surge of activity in the youth climate movement.
Topics: Scales of Climate Action, Mitigation, Adaptation, Political Action, Social Mobilization, Youth Climate Movements, Complex Contagion
Week 3: Climate Change Communication (September 17-September 23).
Week 3 will provide an overview of what people in the US and around the world think about climate change. Lectures draw on research from communication and social psychology to provide explanations for climate change polarization in the US. We also introduce concepts like trusted messengers and framing that can aid us in communicating with specific audiences.
Topics: Climate change risk perception, Climate Change Public Opinion, Trusted Messengers, Identity
Week 4: Introduction to Climate Policy (September 24-September 30)
Week 4 introduces major categories of climate policy, such as economic signals, performance standards, and research and development. We also discuss the Green New Deal as a significant concept both in the United States and internationally.
Topics: Climate Policy Design, Climate Change in Communities, the Green New Deal
Week 5: Global Climate Negotiations & Project Work (October 1-October 7)
Week 5 will build on themes from Week 4 and take a more in depth look at climate change global agreements, such as the Paris Agreement and Kyoto Protocol.
Topics: History of international climate negotiations, the Paris Agreement, REDD+, International Market Mechanisms, Climate Change and Vulnerability
During the week of October 1, participants will have the opportunity to sign up for virtual project feedback sessions with instructors.
Week 6: Course Wrap-up (October 8-15).
Week 6 is a project work week during which you can find time to complete your final project and receive project feedback during a virtual Zoom session. Projects will be due by October 15.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Course email CivicEcology@cornell.edu When you email us, please always start the subject of your email with “Climate Change Course” so that we can find your message.
- Why do you have four types of enrollment for different fees? Nearly all students pay the $60 fee. Some course participants are able to pay more and sponsor a student who is unable to pay. Only students who are not able to take the course because of the fee use the options of paying a smaller fee or taking the course for free. We are committed to creating equal access to the course materials and to instructor feedback regardless of a student’s ability to pay.
- If I pay $120, can I link with the student I sponsor? No, we keep who pays and who doesn’t pay anonymous. However, you will be able to connect with students from many different countries through the course discussion board and social media.
- Can I sponsor more than one student? Yes, we would be grateful for your support of other students, especially in developing countries, who otherwise cannot afford paying for this course.
- How long is the course? This is a 7-week course, and it requires about 4 hours of work per week. All required learning materials are offered asynchronously. Only optional webinars are synchronous, and they are recorded in case if you prefer to watch at another time.
- Can I submit the final project in my native language? We strongly encourage you to submit all assignments in English so that instructors and other students can give you feedback. We also accept and give feedback on assignments submitted in Chinese and Spanish.
- How will I receive course certificates? You will receive your PDF course certificate within one month after the end of the course — only if you fulfilled the course requirements.
- What social media are used in this course? We use an optional Facebook group and WeChat group where students and instructors share ideas and resources. Students gain a great deal from exchanging ideas and resources and “meeting” fellow students and instructors on social media. However, participating in social media is not required to earn a certificate. Only course participants can be part of this Facebook group. Do NOT invite your friends or colleagues to this group. You can participate in both the Facebook and WeChat group (WeChat is mostly in Chinese).
- Which languages are used in the course? We use English. Some materials (video lecture subtitles, and some lecture summaries) are posted in Chinese and Spanish.
- Can I share course materials with my colleagues and friends? You are NOT allowed to share, copy, distribute, or forward any readings from this course. They are only for your own learning. All readings in this course are copyright protected, and nobody is permitted to share them outside this course. Course syllabus cannot be shared. You are welcome to share your learning experiences and course projects with your colleagues and friends.