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This module is part of a growing collection of classroom-tested materials developed by GETSI. The materials engage students in understanding the earth system as it intertwines with key societal issues. The collection is freely available and ready to be adapted by undergraduate educators across a range of courses including: general education or majors courses in Earth-focused disciplines such as geoscience or environmental science, social science, engineering, and other sciences, as well as courses for interdisciplinary programs.
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Unit 5: Societal Implications of Climate Change: Stakeholder Report

Bruce Douglas (Indiana University)
Susan Kaspari (Central Washington University)

Summary

Sea-level rise due to the melting of glaciers and ice sheets and ocean thermal expansion has significant societal and economic consequences. In this final unit, students prepare a summary of the impacts of sea level for relevant stakeholders. Students will integrate the stakeholder analysis in Unit 1 with the geodetic data (radar satellite altimetry, GRACE [Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment], InSAR, and GPS) of ice mass loss and sea-level rise from Units 2–4 in their analysis. Unit 5 is the summative assessment for the module.

Learning Goals

Unit 5 Learning Outcomes

This unit is intended to provide the summative assessment for the entire module. As such the students should demonstrate a mastery of the learning goals for the entire module. Students will be able to:

1. Analyze geodetic data to assess ice sheet changes and the causes of observed sea level, and will make predictions of future sea-level rise.

2. Assess the societal and economic consequences of observed and projected sea-level changes on regions most vulnerable to sea-level rise.

Context for Use

This activity is intended for use as a summative assessment for the entire module and gives students the opportunity to apply knowledge gained in the other units. This unit cannot be completed successfully without the skill and knowledge gained from previous units. Although Units 1–4 could be done without Unit 5, this unit provides an excellent opportunity for students to apply their new skills in a societally relevant context through the incorporation of a stakeholder analysis. The overall structure of this activity may be adapted for use in lower-level courses. This might require more group work throughout and could be heavily structured by the instructor (for example, by providing a template for the stakeholder analysis or setting up spreadsheets for the plotting and modeling aspects).

Description and Teaching Materials

Unit 5 serves as the summative assessment for the entire module. Students pull from analyses and activities in previous units to write a Stakeholder Report. The majority of the write-up can be done outside of class. Thus the class time needed is just to introduce the assignment, which is then completed at home. The summary focuses on the consequences of sea-level change for the various stakeholders in those communities with the most imminent threat: coastal developing country, major coastal urban area, or an island nation. Given this subject matter, there is wide opportunity to include socially relevant discussions and applications of various means of determining how to approach this report. Unit 1 provides a basis for selecting which of the various stakeholders the document could be written for. It would be good to remind the students at the start of Unit 5 that they will need to be thinking about what they learned in their stakeholder analysis and use this to help them organize how they will be framing their arguments and who will be the stakeholder they choose to write their report for. The different data sets and techniques used in Units 2–4 provide independent lines of working with the quantifying rates of sea-level change and the contributing factors. In order to give students practice in moving from thinking like students to considering how scientific analyses need to be converted to materials useable by nonscientists, the assignment requires the students to reframe what they have determined into a report useable for a stakeholder identified by the student, who may be in the most strategic position for effecting change based on findings from scientists.

Teaching Materials

An outline for the Stakeholder Report is provided for the students, as well as a grading rubric for the report. It should be noted that the report should be succinct and designed to provide 2–3 salient points with supporting documentation in the form of plots and tables. A set of appendices may be included that will have a substantial portion of the plots, question answers, models, and summaries of the results for Units 1–4.

A separate metacognition response may also be required. This asks the students to reflect on what part of the module they thought matched their expectations and what part did not match their expectations or surprised them. This type of contemplation on a student's own learning journey has been shown to positively influence learning.

Because this unit requires a writing style that may vary from a standard lab report, a number of links are provided below that provide instruction in some basic techniques for a more traditional prose writing style.

Teaching Notes and Tips

  • Unit 5 will be easiest to complete if the students are incrementally working on it while completing units 1–4. Thus, it is useful if the instructor has introduced the students to Unit 5 earlier in the module.
  • Unit 5 is intended to be a synthesis of the different techniques and concepts covered in the module, as applied to a real-world scenario, emphasizing potential societal impacts. While it is hoped that the students will be able to work with a great deal of independence, it may be necessary to support students as they progress through the Unit 5 workflow and, where necessary, help them in recalling and applying previously learned material as well as their stakeholder analysis from Unit 1.
  • Unit 5 is anticipated to require the students to work longer outside of classroom or laboratory meeting times and could be scheduled such that a second laboratory session be used as a time when the faculty member would be available for consultation and guidance to catch misconceptions and also minimize time spent pursuing dead ends. This exercise will serve as an opportunity to prepare an organized and formal report targeted to a specific person or organization as determined through a stakeholder analysis. For this reason, the students might be required to turn in a draft that can be critiqued by fellow classmates as well as by the instructor. The report, with appendices that include a majority of the work/results from Units 1–4, also provides an opportunity for the students to assess which arguments are best to present and what supporting data is required, since not all of the materials created can be included in the formal portion of the report.
  • The students are also asked to complete a reflection exercise in which they consider how completing this module has altered how they think about sea-level changes and what they have learned about which stakeholders are in positions that dictate how the short-term debates and long-term consequences play out.
  • A number of background readings and resources were first introduced in Unit 1, and the students should be reminded to review what of that material they consider helpful and appropriate. This will aid them as they go about organizing and writing their Stakeholder Report. It would be reasonable to include those materials in the References and Resources portion of Unit 5. Additional materials may also be identified as the module is being taught.

Assessment

Unit 5 is the primary summative assessment for the module. The report will be based in large part on the student's responses to the requirements of the reports as outlined in the student handout for the organization of this report. Instructors may modify this rubric to assign point values in a manner that is consistent with their course-grading scheme. Student metacognition is an important part of the learning process. Unit 5 has a second handout that asks the students to reflect on their own learning during this module and its personal significance. Students' responses may be scored using the rubric included in the second student handout.

Stakeholder Report Grading Rubric (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 20kB Nov8 19)

Reflection Statement Rubric (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 17kB Nov8 19)

References and Resources

Next steps

These are the same references as were given in Unit 1.

National, International, and Nongovernmental Organizations

Bangladesh

Small Island Nations

Continental Coastal Cities

Topical Resources

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This module is part of a growing collection of classroom-tested materials developed by GETSI. The materials engage students in understanding the earth system as it intertwines with key societal issues. The collection is freely available and ready to be adapted by undergraduate educators across a range of courses including: general education or majors courses in Earth-focused disciplines such as geoscience or environmental science, social science, engineering, and other sciences, as well as courses for interdisciplinary programs.
Explore the Collection »