Wed, 07 Oct 2015 14:36:00 CDT — by: Callie Oldfield
This September, Sewanee hosted T-Cloud, an opportunity for scientists to come together and discuss climate literacy. We talked with one of the collaborators from Sewanee, Dr. Kristen Cecala (biology), about the accomplishments of the program and opportunities to increase climate literacy at Sewanee.
SustainSewanee: What is T-Cloud?
Kristen Cecala: T-CLoUD stands for Teaching Climate Literacy Using Data. The project brought together faculty from colleges affiliated with the Associated Colleges of the South to develop interdisciplinary teaching modules. These teaching modules are designed to use existing and new data sources to investigate climate change and its causes. A significant challenge in teaching climate change is that it requires knowledge of chemistry, biology, physics, earth and atmospheric science to understand the science of climate change at multiple scales. The longer term goal is to build an interdisciplinary network to investigate patterns of change in the southeastern United States.
SS: How does Sewanee currently incorporate climate in our curriculum?
KC: Sewanee's curriculum addresses climate change in many different disciplines. Climate change is a cross cutting issue that will affect the environment, the economy, and increase the likelihood of natural disasters. This makes climate an issue that is discussed in many types of courses on campus from introductory courses into upper level electives across the curriculum. Understanding the science of climate change is important, but evaluating its impacts on the natural environment as well as human society requires study from multiple perspectives.
SS: What were the main conclusions of T-Cloud?
KC: Faculty from 6 ACS colleges as well as David Stooksbury an Associate Professor of Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Georgia gathered to discuss major concepts and misconceptions surrounding the science of climate change. One conclusion from the meeting was that opportunities for students to work with real-time and historic data is an opportunity to illustrate changes that have already occurred. Faculty developed learning objectives for joint study of gauged watersheds near to each campus. Because of our broad spatial distribution across the southeastern United States, we can remain in contact and share results to evaluate patterns of climate change in the southeast.
SS: How might Sewanee promote climate literacy in the future?
KC: Sewanee can continue to promote climate literacy in the future by encouraging students to be interdisciplinary. Because this is an issue that affects all of humanity, thinking of new connections to be made across campus will facilitate conversations that develop into proposals or actions to mitigate Sewanee's effect on future change. By working with data, we also train students that are capable of evaluating trends and coming to their own independent conclusions about a wide variety of trends observed by scientists.