GSA Annual Meeting in Phoenix, Arizona, USA - 2019

Paper No. 231-4
Presentation Time: 2:25 PM


FORTNER, Sarah K., Geology, Wittenberg University, Springfield, OH 45501

Building climate literacy and supporting equitable problem solving requires deepened exchanges with communities through both research and education. While most geoscience programs are designed to address societal issues, only 46% of all geoscience faculty surveyed reported that they teach at local scales. A pre and post survey of 60 students taking an introductory Global Climate Change course at Wittenberg University offers insight into why place-based approaches matter. Analyzing local data, exploring intersections between local issues and climate change, and engaging with public audiences around locally relevant climate resilience issues (e.g. stormwater, land use, flooding, energy use) were central attributes of the course. The class culminated in advocacy projects that engaged more than 300 people on campus or in Springfield, Ohio. Projects included surveying residents on perspectives important to changing trash hauler practices and asking students on campus, which climate-community issues mattered most to them. At the beginning of the course 77% of students reported that they were “somewhat” or “very worried” about climate change. Yet, only 23% of all students could name any climate change impacts in the town they considered home (mostly Ohio). Post-course, all students reported that they were “somewhat” or “very worried” about climate change and 85% could name climate a climate impact from the town they considered home. There was also a 32% increase in students who agreed or strongly agreed with the statement “I am generally aware of issues in concerns within my community.” Likewise, there was a 24% increase in “much more” responses to “Citizens themselves should do more to address global warming.” Not surprisingly, students also reported increased frequency of discussing global warming with their friends and family. Sustaining community-connected projects through time has also been an important mode for expanding partner collaboration within our program and deepening the incorporation of geoscience in existing community development and agricultural planning and implementation efforts. Place-based research, education, and advocacy are important modes for preparing students for their work in communities and improving community outcomes.