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Paper: Climate Change Engagement in Astro 101
Volume: 531, ASP2020: Embracing the Future: Astronomy Teaching and Public Engagement
Page: 278
Authors: Williamson, K.
Abstract: Astronomy, and the Astro 101 course in particular, is a unique and powerful platform for empowering students to grapple with one of the most pressing issues of our time: climate change. There is a surprisingly rich history of planetary science informing our understanding of Earth, from the greenhouse effect on Venus to the effects of Mars' loss of magnetic field and thinning atmosphere, to the discovery of an anti-greenhouse effect on Titan. However, as some of the great climate science communicators have noted, science alone will not save us. When we, as astronomy educators, teach about the carbon cycle and the greenhouse effect, and when we discuss the devastating predictions of global warming and climate change, we must also find ways to empower students to use their voices and take action. In this presentation I will discuss some of the methods I have tried over the past few years, including a "stabilization wedge" game, in which students choose various solutions to climate change, civic engagement letter writing to decision-makers on campus and in our state, guest speakers, and a "climate conversations" assignment in which students engage in a discussion with a friend or family member outside of the course and then write a reflection. I will share examples of student-produced work and feedback from some basic assessment surveys, and end with a vision for how astronomers and astronomy educators can keep the climate conversation going.
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