Climathon: Adapting the "hackathon" model to engage undergraduates, researchers, and members of the community in building climate resilience

Wednesday 1:35 PT / 2:35 MT / 3:35 CT / 4:35 ET Online


Jason Cervenec, Ohio State University-Main Campus
Karina Peggau, Ohio State University-Main Campus
Geddy Davis, Ohio State University-Main Campus
Julia Armstrong, Ohio State University-Main Campus

To increase the diversity of students engaged in climate resilience, expose students to soft skills needed in the modern workplace, and facilitate dialogue between university researchers and community members, a successful "hackathon" model for computer programming that was perfected at Ohio State over a decade informed creation of a Climathon.

At Ohio State, student interest in climate resilience outpaces opportunities to engage via paid internships. The climathon allows university faculty and staff to increase capacity for a manageable time period and does not require students to accept extended, unpaid internships to participate in climate resilience work. The climathon also helps students grapple with complexities of working in the sector, allows them to see otherwise overlooked connections to their discipline, and exposes them to emerging job opportunities. 

Likewise, each year more partners approach Ohio State, including local governments, non-profits, state agencies, and companies, to collaborate on climate resilience projects. Some of these partners have financial resources but most of them lack a combination of technical expertise, interdisciplinary knowledge, and access to data sets to complete projects on their own. Through the climathon, community members may develop solutions, network with faculty and staff working in relevant fields, find potential employees, and interact with other agencies, non-profits, and businesses working in the sector. 

A one-weekend program offers a way for the university to match unlimited student interest with unlimited community demand to yield benefits for all interested parties, including improved education outcomes and a greater practitioner connectivity. Beyond an organizing committee and community members who volunteer their time, the only other costs are facility fees and prizes. 

The climathon, which was to be conducted virtually in April 2021, has been postponed to October 2021 with in-person and virtual options anticipated. This session will provide an overview of the format and sharing of practices. 

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