By Robert Monroe (courtesy of Scripps Institution of Oceanography)
Scripps Institution of Oceanography climate scientist Veerabhadran Ramanathan has long had the goal of educating and empowering “one million climate warriors” who will help society tackle the world’s greatest existential threat.
A series of new massive open online courses being offered to the public could provide a substantial leap toward reaching that goal. “Bending the Curve: Climate Change Solutions” is a four-part course series that will be made available to anyone – from high school students to retired professionals – who are interested in solutions to the climate change crisis.
“The potential for delivering this incredible course to the growing community of environmental professionals, teachers and citizens served by University Extension inspired us to immediately join the team to help connect it to a larger public audience,” said Mary Walshok, the dean of UC San Diego Extension.
The course covers the underpinnings of climate change science and impacts on health of people and health of the planet. Its primary focus, however, is on the multi-dimensional aspects of the solutions to the climate crisis, said Ramanathan. These include societal transformation, governance, market measures, technologies for bending the curve of emissions of carbon and super pollutants, ecosystem management and extraction of carbon from the air. The four-part series includes recorded lectures from 25 experts in climate science, social science, public health, policy, economics, energy technologies, super pollutants and ecosystem management from across the UC system and elsewhere.
“Its uniqueness is addressing the interconnectedness of the problem and how all of society including faith communities have to come together to address this crisis,” said Ramanathan. “The course lectures also address the inter-generational and intra-generational equity and ethical issues bringing in vividly the plight of the world’s 3 billion or more vulnerable people.”
Bending the Curve is also supported by an open-access book authored by the lecturers of the course, published by eScholarship at the California Digital Library in the University of California Office of the President and funded by the Gates Foundation.
Karen Flammer, director of digital learning at the Teaching + Learning Commons at UC San Diego, and her team are spearheading the push to bring the course to the public via UC San Diego Online, online.ucsd.edu. Anyone can enroll in “Bending the Curve” and audit the courses for free. Those wishing to take the instruction further can pay $49 per course for access to additional assessment activities that earn them a statement of accomplishment upon successful completion. “Bending the Curve” is not a credit-bearing course, but Flammer envisions that in some instances organizations may use completion of this course series as a form of training in climate change literacy.
“One of the goals is to increase public access to UC San Diego,” Flammer said. “We want to make this content accessible to a global audience and we finally have a platform that makes this possible.”
The first run of the course is expected to attract as many as 5,000 sign-ups though the platform has the capacity to accommodate tens of thousands of learners. Are you going to be the next Climate Warrior?