Climate Change Science, Communication, and Action


Climate Change Science, Communication, and Action

January 23-February 20, 2018

Click Here to Register

Registration Deadline: January 22

Course Testimonials

Description:  Interested in working toward climate solutions? Want to learn more about how to talk to people about climate change? This course covers the basics of climate change, from science to action, and will assist you in developing a consistent climate message.

In this 4-week online course, you will start by getting to know each other and the basics of climate science and climate change impacts on our food and water supply, and human health (week 1). You will then learn about climate change communication and environmental psychology research and consider how this can inform your educational and environmental practices (week 2). Finally, you will hear about climate change adaptation and mitigation community solutions as well as examples of climate change communication in action (week 3-4). Each week will feature a discussion question and short quizzes. For your final assignment, you will complete a project plan that details how you will apply course material to your practices. Alternately, you can apply course material during the course and submit a report about your experience. You will have two extra weeks after the course ends to submit your final assignment.

Course Delivery. Course material will be delivered via video lecture and readings. 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. This course will use the learning management software edX Edge for all videos, readings, assignments, and discussions. We will use a closed Facebook group as an optional discussion platform where course instructors and participants can post resources, pose questions, and “meet” others with similar interests. We will host optional webinars each week that will be recorded and posted for those course members who are unable to attend.

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$20 fee. Options available to pay a higher fee to sponsor another student. If you have limited ability to pay or live in a country without a credit card system, you may apply for a scholarship.

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.

Learning Outcomes:

Through this course, you will:

  1. Increase your understanding of the basics of climate change science and communication and action strategies.
  2. 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.
  3. Enhance climate-related education and actions with youth, students, private land-owners, gardeners, master volunteers, municipal officials, colleagues, and others.

Certificates: Participants who complete the course are awarded a Cornell University certificate. Students who complete weekly assignments along with a course project will earn a Certificate of Professional Development. Weekly assignments include watching lectures, readings, discussion questions, and short 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 and complete short quizzes and compete a final project in which you apply what you have learned to your work (e.g., develop a short plan for an educational program). 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 ParticipationOne 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.


Mike Hoffmann                               Executive Director                                      Cornell Institute for Climate Smart Solutions Jonathan Lambert                                       Program Manager                                          Cornell Institute for Climate Smart Solutions 
Allison Chatrchyan                           Director                                                       Cornell Institute for Climate Smart Solutions Anne Armstrong                                              MS/PhD Student                                           Department of Natural Resources
Jonathon Schuldt                                  Assistant Professor                       Department of Communication Marianne Krasny                                   Director                                                          Civic Ecology Lab                                          Cornell Department of Natural Resources


John Bowe                                                                                                                                         4-H and Family Living Team Coordinator                                                                           Cornell Cooperative Extension of Warren County
Anne Christian-Reuter                                                                                                       Program Educator                                                                                                                        Cornell Cooperative Extension
Marilyn Wyman                                                                                                                         Issue Leader – Natural Resources and the Environment                                                   Cornell Cooperative Extension of Columbia & Greene Counties
Laura Griffen McDermott                                                                                                       Small Fruit and Vegetable Specialist                                                                                               Cornell Cooperative Extension Eastern NY Commercial Horticulture Program

Course Outline

Week 1: Climate Change Science (January 23-29)

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.

TopicsCourse introduction, Climate Change 101, Climate Change Evidence, Climate Change and Public Health, Climate Change and Water, Climate Change and Food

Week 2: Climate Change Communication (January 30-February 5)

Week 2 provides an overview of climate change communication and environmental psychology research that helps us understand how people think about climate change and gives us tools for better communicating about the issue.

Topics: Public Opinion and Climate Change (US), Global Climate Change Attitudes, Climate Change and Risk Perception, Climate Change and Identity, Trusted Messengers

Week 3: Climate Change Action (February 6-12).

Week 3 introduces the broad categories of climate change action and emphasizes the important role of local communities in fighting climate change.

Topics: Adaptation, mitigation, climate change & communities, climate change communication in action

Week 4: Climate Smart Planning and Project Work

Week 4 will build on themes from Week 3 by taking a more in depth look at climate smart planning at the community level. There will not be as much required content in this week to leave participants time to work on their final projects.*

Topics: Climate smart communities, climate smart agriculture, climate action case studies


*Subject to minor changes

 This project is supported in part by Smith-Lever Act Capacity Funds provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, National Institute of Food and Agriculture