Teaching Climate Science Discernment to Undergraduates

Thursday 1:30pm REC Center Large Ice Overlook Room
Oral Presentation Part of Teaching Controversial Topics


Sherry D Oaks, sherry.oaks@colorado.edu
This presentation shows techniques for teaching climate science in our politically charged times. For undergraduates we analyze scientific journals, professional scientific blogs, and active research sites to illustrate the constructive uncertainty in science and a discernment of the science policy debate.

Students are not usually aware of actual climate science being performed daily in the field and in the laboratory, nor are they fully cognizant of science policy debates. Each end of the scientific policy spectrum has been radicalized by so-called "deniers" and "warmists." True scientific skepticism is the hallmark for forward progress of science. Scientists are diligently working to bring new observational data into sensitive but incomplete global climate models. In addition, researchers worldwide are correlating new types of proxy data with refinements in satellite imagery. Students assess data and imagery to develop analytical skills to address the actual science.

Not knowing drives science forward for both better science and science policy. Some textbook language has been smoothed to represent current preferred policy while in fact the science is dynamic, fluid, and exciting. Students actively engage in skeptical inquiry, group research activities, and individual projects.
Teaching Climate Science Discernment to Undergraduates (PowerPoint 2007 (.pptx) 10.4MB Jul17 15)