How Astronomers Can Teach and Talk About Climate Change!

CASCA’s Sustainability Committee is pleased to announce a special  presentation:

Speaker: Dr. Travis Rector, Professor, Physics & Astronomy, University of Alaska Anchorage

Date: Thursday October 8, 2020
Time: 11:00 am PDT (GMT-7)

Climate change may just be the biggest threat humanity has ever faced.   Our response, particularly in the next decade, has critical consequences for what the future will hold.  Fortunately astronomers  are well positioned to make a difference.  We are highly trusted.  And we offer a unique and important perspective that can help people understand the problem as well as solutions.  Introductory astronomy classes and our public outreach are an effective way to teach climate change because they reach large numbers of people and cover related  topics.

But we need to recognize that climate change communication is  different than the other forms of outreach we do.  Climate change is a  difficult topic to teach because it spans a wide range of subject  areas, from physics to psychology.  It is also a controversial topic,  meaning that simply knowing the science content is not enough.  People largely made decisions about climate change based upon their values and identity. We therefore need to communicate the causes,  consequences, and solutions to climate change.

In my talk I will describe effective methods for teaching climate  change in astronomy classes as well as present established strategies  for engaging the public.  I will also discuss ways in which our  profession can reduce our carbon footprint.

About the speaker: Travis Rector is a professor at the University of  Alaska Anchorage and the chair of the American Astronomical Society’s  Sustainability Committee.

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CASCA’s Sustainability Committee exists to find ways to mitigate the  environmental impacts, especially climate impacts, of Canadian  astronomy; and to enhance the understanding, teaching, and outreach on  topics relating to Earth’s climate system.

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