Climate Science across the Liberal Arts Curriculum at Gustavus Adolphus College
Abstract:The human and social dimensions of climate change are addressed in courses in humanities, social sciences, and arts disciplines. However, faculty members in these disciplines are not climate science experts and thus may feel uncomfortable discussing the science that underpins our understanding of climate change. In addition, many students are interested in the connections between climate change and their program of study, but not all students take courses that address climate science as a principal goal. At Gustavus Adolphus College, the Climate Science Project aims to help non-geoscience faculty introduce climate science content in their courses in order to increase climate science literacy among students and inform discussions of the implications of climate change.
We assembled an interdisciplinary team of faculty with climate science expertise to develop climate science modules for use in non-geoscience courses. Faculty from the social sciences, humanities, arts, education, and natural sciences attended workshops in which they developed plans to include climate science in their courses. Based on these workshops, members of the development team created short modules for use by participating faculty that introduce climate science concepts to a non-specialist audience. Each module was tested and modified prior to classroom implementation by a team of faculty and geoscience students. Faculty and student learning are assessed throughout the process, and participating faculty members are interviewed to improve the module development process.
The Climate Science Project at Gustavus Adolphus College aims to increase climate science literacy in both faculty members and students by creating accessible climate science content and supporting non-specialist faculty in learning key climate science concepts. In this way, climate science becomes embedded in current course offerings, including non-science courses, reaching many more students than new courses or enhanced content in the geosciences can reach. In addition, this model can be adopted by institutions with limited geoscience course offerings to increase geoscience literacy among a broad cross-section of students.