Teaching Climate Adaptation: Regional Climate Science Center Network Activities on Education and Training

Teaching Climate Adaptation: Regional Climate Science Center Network Activities on Education and Training

Josh George Foster
Time Slot: 
Thursday 8:00am - Concurrent Session 8
Session Type: 
Symposium (Individual Presentations)

The Department of the Interior’s Climate Science Center (CSCs) network has launched a series of experimental learning activities to develop and inform the next generation of climate scientists and practitioners. Education is a priority across the CSC network for graduate and undergraduate students, early-career professionals, and stakeholders with trainings used to build broader community capacity to adapt to climate change. CSCs have designed and implemented a diversity of educational and training activities from research fellowships, projects, and professional skills development (e.g. science communication) to networking and knowledge exchange, sharing and integrating “ways of knowing”, understanding management challenges, and co-creating implementable solutions among researchers and practitioners. CSCs student education activities provide opportunities for sharing research, and learning from outside researchers and practitioners via seminars, webinars, workshops, and conferences. Regional trainings have been convened on specific topics such as climate modeling, climate vulnerability assessments, and structured decision-making (SDM). Broader skills trainings have included introduction to climate science or climatological practices, conducting interdisciplinary and trans-disciplinary research, science communications and storytelling, field experiences for place-based natural resource management, and integrating knowledge to address climate problems and explore solutions in the context of a changing climate. Some education and training experience specifically have engaged tribal, minority, youth, or women students and early to mid career professionals. Drawing on a diverse set of education and training experiences from across the eight regional centers, the CSC network is proposing a NAF symposium on teaching of climate adaptation, science communications, knowledge coproduction, and translational and actionable science.


Developing a Translational Science Workforce
Toni Lyn Morelli, Northeast Climate Science Center
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Becoming a translational ecologist requires specific attention to obtaining critical non-scientific disciplinary breadth and skills that are not standard within a classical graduate education in ecology. There is a need for individuals with broad training in interdisciplinary skills and a method has been outlined by which interested ecologists may take steps toward becoming translational. Translational skills may be garnered through personal experience, informal training, available topical short courses, fellowships that value outreach and communication, or through graduate programs that emphasize broad training. The fellowship program at the DOI Northeast Climate Science Center will be highlighted, although with personal experiences to assess the kinds of interdisciplinary skills that are useful as a translational ecologist. Building the translational ecology workforce needed to allow ecologists to bridge from science to natural resource decision-making is a joint responsibility of individuals interested in pursuing these careers, educational institutions interested in career training outside of academia, and employers who seek to hire skilled workers who can foster stakeholder-engaged decision making.

  • Toni Lyn Morelli, USGS - DOI Northeast Climate Science Center
  • Mark Schwartz, University of California Davis
  • Kevin J Hiers, Tall Timbers Research Station
  • Frank Davis, University of California Santa Barbara
  • Gregg Garfin, University of Arizona
  • Stephen Jackson, USGS - DOI Southwest Climate Science Center
  • Adam Terando, USGS - DOI Southeast Climate Science Center
  • Connie Woodhouse, University of Arizona
  • Matthew Williamson, University of California Davis
  • Mark Brunson, Utah State University
Northwest Ways of Knowing: Teaching Climate Adaptation Skills and Practices
Steven Daley Laursen, Northwest Climate Science Center
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The wicked problem of climate change requires collaboration between managers and researchers to adapt and build resilience. In response, the Northwest Climate Science Center (NW CSC) works with regional partners to develop curriculum that will increase the capacity of tribes, agencies and organizations to adapt. This presentation discusses two such endeavors, Tribal Climate Camp and Climate Boot Camp. Now in its second year, Tribal Climate Camp brings together designated teams of tribal environmental and natural resource professionals to learn specific skills, and to draft and design presentation of climate adaptation plans. Climate Boot Camp offers a focus on place-based education for managers, early career professionals, and graduate students to learn climate science and science communications through local case studies. Evaluation results for both camps demonstrate the value in place based education and training approaches, blending formal and informal interaction with instructors via integrated knowledge and reflection, experiential learning, collaborative exercises, and the opportunity to build networks across geography and ways of knowing.

  • Arwen Bird, Northwest Climate Science Center
  • Josh Foster, Northwest Climate Science Center
Facilitating knowledge coproduction on Hawaiʻi Island: managers and scientists in the context of climate change
Scott Laursen, Pacific Islands Climate Science Center
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Meadow et al. (2015) define knowledge coproduction as “the process of producing usable, or actionable, science through collaboration between scientists and those who use the science to make policy and management decisions.” This process can be applied at any stakeholder scale and effectively builds diverse professional networks that are inherently powerful in maximizing communities’ adaptive capacities during socio-ecological change (e.g. climate change, land-use change, invasive species impacts, or cultural change). A pivotal reason for this is that collaborative knowledge networks unite multiple knowledge forms across diverse worldviews, collectively increasing the capacity for effective island stewardship. Our session will begin with a brief oral presentation introducing the concept of knowledge coproduction and outlining an on-the-ground example of utilizing this manager-driven process within a new program at the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo, called the Manager Climate Corps (http://hilo.hawaii.edu/picsc/). We will then screen a short film that documents an out-of-the-box experience we developed in support of professional networking within our knowledge coproduction program on Hawaiʻi Island.

  • Sharon Ziegler-Chong, Pacific Islands Climate Science Center
Managing for a Changing Climate: Educating Stakeholders Using a Massive Open Online Course
Aparna Bamzai, U.S. Geological Survey / North Central Climate Science Center
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One message that we have heard from university students, natural and cultural resource managers, and adaptation professionals is that they have not received formal training on climate science, climate modeling and projections, and the impacts of climate change on local and regional landscapes. As a result, they feel uncomfortable interpreting complex datasets or answering questions of supervisors and the general public. It is difficult for managers to find high-quality instruction from a reputable climate science program to attend given their current time and travel constraints. One way to combat this difficulty is to provide an asynchronous learning environment using accessible, internet-based technology. This type of course can use established faculty members as instructors and incorporate the expertise of all course participants in online discussions.

In 2016, we developed an online, interactive course to provide an integrative understanding of the components of the climate system including the range of natural climate variability and external drivers of climate change, in addition to impacts of a changing climate on multiple sectors such as the economy, policy, ecosystems, and indigenous populations. Because the course is available freely online, natural resources managers, tribal environmental professionals, students at other universities, and anyone from the general public were able to participate. We will demonstrate the interactive features of the course, show an example of the multimedia content, summarize metrics of participant learning and interactions, and describe how we plan to incorporate additional feedback and expertise from stakeholder participants into the next iteration of the course.

  • Renee McPherson, University of Oklahoma
  • Elinor Martin, University of Oklahoma
  • Aparna Bamzai, South Central Climate Science Center
Promoting Research and Learning through Video: Graduate Training in Science Communication and Videomaking
Cari S Furiness, Southeast Climate Science Center
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The Southeast Climate Science Center (SE CSC) supports a Global Change Fellows program, in which NC State University graduate students doing research related to SE CSC science themes are competitively awarded annual stipends and educational and professional training. Cohorts of 6 to 12 students engage in activities such as a week-long workshop in decision analysis and seminar courses in climate science and conservation biology and climate change. As part of coursework and as separate trainings, we have stressed gaining skills in science communication. One emphasis is on training in the principles and methods of videomaking, so that the Fellows learn to effectively tell the story of their research and to create video that communicates the impact in a compelling and engaging way. This provides a great mechanism for peer learning and paves the way for them use this media in different settings, such as creating video abstracts as part of their professional portfolios, incorporating video into press releases for publications, and communicating science results to a broader public audience. The presentation will describe some of the workshops and trainings and present some excerpts of example videos.

One Size Does Not Fit All: The Need for Multidisciplinary, Cross-sectoral Climate Adaptation Training for Diverse Audiences
Jill Lackett, North Central Climate Science Center, Colorado State University
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The North Central Climate Science Center (NC CSC) strives to broadly conceive their plan for training, education and capacity building, recognizing the fact that climate adaptation training is needed at all levels from undergraduates to mid-career professionals. Likewise, managing for climate change requires taking a social-ecological systems approach, which is often not traditionally included in trainings, recognizing that there are interactions between sectors in a system within which natural resource management decisions are made. In this vein, the NC CSC offers many types of trainings aimed at different groups of multidisciplinary learners in the NC CSC region. This presentation will give an overview of the concept of social-ecological systems framing, the types of trainings provided at the NC CSC, as well as some examples of positive outcomes that have been realized.

  • Dennis Ojima, North Central Climate Science Center, Colorado State University