By Henry DeVries
Several big, unanswered questions dominate public views of climate change:
Why are there such different views on the causes and consequences of climate change?
Why has the world so far failed to address this issue effectively?
Why do some accept climate change as a reality while others perceive it with a skeptical view?
In an effort to better understand and close these perceptual gaps, four renowned scientists from UC San Diego and Scripps Institution of Oceanography (SIO) are offering a free online climate change course in the late fall of 2013. “Climate Change in Four Dimensions: Scientific, Policy, International, and Social” is one of the first massive open online courses (MOOC) being offered as a non-credit course by UC San Diego.
The course includes lectures by Professors Charles Kennel, Naomi Oreskes, Richard Somerville, and David Victor, with a special lecture by Veerabhadran Ramanathan. Online students will interact with Kim McIntyre, the instructor of record for the course.
As the course name indicates, students will view climate change from a variety of perspectives at the intersection of the natural sciences, technology, the social sciences, and the humanities. The course also introduces new topics, such as geoengineering, currently confronting the science and policy communities. Students can expect the same quality learning and instruction that UC San Diego is known for, including complete video lectures and online activities to enhance learning and instruction by leading professors.
The course is designed for working professionals in the sustainability industry, college students, recent graduates, and people passionate about learning more about the environment. Students should visit ocw.ucsd.edu to enroll in the non-credit course. In response to requests from students who want to verify course completion, UC San Diego Extension is offering a $195 credit option for those desiring continuing education credit for the course.
Kennel was educated in astronomy and astrophysics at Harvard and Princeton. He became the ninth director of SIO and vice chancellor and dean of marine sciences at UC San Diego in 1998, stepping down in late 2006. In 2005, Kennel founded the UC San Diego Environment and Sustainability Initiative, embracing teaching, research, campus operations, and public outreach, and is now a member of the Sustainability Solutions Institute created by the initiative.
Oreskes is a professor of history and science studies at UC San Diego and an adjunct professor of geosciences at SIO. She is an internationally renowned historian of science and author. Oreskes has won numerous prizes, including the 2011 Climate Change Communicator of the Year, and is co-author of the popular book Merchants of Doubt.
Somerville is a climate scientist and distinguished professor emeritus and research professor at SIO at UC San Diego. He is active in climate change research, education, and outreach. He is the author of The Forgiving Air: Understanding Environmental Change, the latest edition of which was published in 2008 by the American Meteorological Society.
Victor is a professor at the School of International Relations and Pacific Studies at UC San Diego and director of the school’s new Laboratory on International Law and Regulation. He is author of Global Warming Gridlock, which explains why the world hasn’t made much diplomatic progress on the problem of climate change while concurrently exploring new strategies that would be more effective. Prior to joining the faculty at UC San Diego, Victor served as director of the Program on Energy and Sustainable Development at Stanford University where he was also a professor at Stanford Law School.
For more than thirty years, Ramanathan, a professor at SIO, has been conducting original research in climate and atmospheric science. He conducts international field campaigns, develops unmanned aircraft platforms for tracking brown cloud pollution worldwide, and educates and trains the next generation of scientists. He also leads Project Surya, a cook-stove project that attempts eliminate climate warming pollutants from traditional biomass cooking.
The creative, interdisciplinary approach to research prominent throughout UC San Diego presents a distinct advantage for a climate change course. A broad range of competencies and expertise in teaching and research are required to address technically and socially complex issues, and students who engage in UC San Diego courses benefit from the wide scope and extensive breadth of research at the university.