Climate Science and Action workshop

My previous post in this blog was on the idea to design teaching materials for viral climate education. I’m happy to report that this project turned out to be successful! The key to success was teaming up with the right people. I was lucky to have met Jan-Marcus Nasse, an environmental physicist and science communicator, who was independently thinking about a similar idea. Together we explored the topic of climate change science, politics and action and created 2.5 – 3 hours workshop materials including a 1.5 hours lecture with a discussion session as well as an hour long interactive role game World Climate developed by Climate Interactive. I dare to say that our materials are not only comprehensive and backed up by solid science, but also visually appealing, due to the contribution of Alberto Bailoni, who made our initially messy slides beautiful. Finally, we received feedback from our friends and colleagues, which helped us to further improve and clarify the content.

Here is the result:

This is the content of our workshop:


So far, we ran this workshop 3 times: at EMBL, University of Heidelberg, and LCOY conference and made a video of our lecture. We hope that anyone who is passionate about the topic and would like to educate their colleagues, neighbours, friends and family members can use our materials to do so.

A couple of concluding remarks concerning future work. First, from the discussion session we have learned that our lecture did not cover an important aspect people were interested in: economical consequences of climate change. This is an area where we have no expertise and would be happy to team up with a professional to extend the materials.

The second remark is related to the audience. Although we had fruitful and deep discussions and got lots of positive feedback from the audience, there is still one aspect where we failed. Initially we aimed at attracting sceptical people having doubts about climate change and its anthropogenic origins, so that we could answer their questions and evoke an open debate in a safe and comfortable space. Unfortunately, we did not succeed in it. There were almost no provocative or disagreeing comments/questions from the audience, which means that sceptics either did not attend the workshop or did not feel comfortable to speak up. The first option seems to be more likely.

There was a very different situation at the implicit bias workshop last year, where the discussion was quite heated and some of the audience reactions were clearly negative. My hypothesis is that the topic of gender bias and equality, quotas etc. bothers people much more, because it is now on the agenda of most of the research institutions, which implies certain policies concerning everyone. At the same time, despite the recent progress in public awareness, the topic of climate change remains rather marginal in our everyday life. If someone does not believe in it, then they have little motivation to explore and discuss it further. This situation might however quickly change, if institutions start introducing offsetting policies and other regulations.

In any case, a better strategy to invite climate sceptics to the debate is needed.

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