Initial Publication Date: May 18, 2018

Alycia Lackey: Using Climate of Change in Bio 103: Saving Planet Earth at Murray State University

About this Course


Two 75-minute lecture sessions

Bio 103 Syllabus (Acrobat (PDF) 223kB May18 18)

In a two-week module on climate change, I used Unit 6 Adapting to a Changing World to encourage students to think about responding to current and future consequences of climate change. The content in this unit strengthened students' understanding of public opinion, including their own opinion, on climate change as well as mitigation and adaptation response strategies.

The component of this unit that had the greatest impact was having students identify their climate change personality and their community's vulnerability. This connected students personally to the material and strengthened their motivation to participate in discussion.

My Experience Teaching with InTeGrateMaterials

The preparation exercise students completed before class primed them to discuss their "climate change personality" and the vulnerability of their community to climate change. I built upon this background to motivate a class discussion on public perception and decision making about climate change. In previous semesters, I had covered public perception generally, but having students identify their own perceptions about climate change as well as their likelihood to experience consequences of climate change made them much more personally invested and engaged in class discussion and problem-solving.

Relationship of InTeGrate Materials to my Course

Unit 6 made up approximately 50 minutes of a 75-min lecture session in a two-week module on climate change. I implemented this unit two-thirds into the course. Before this class, we had covered how carbon dioxide contributes to climate change, the greenhouse gas effect, and the consequences of climate change that have already occurred for weather patterns, ocean temperatures and acidity, and melting sea and land ice. Additionally, we had watched the 2012 Frontline documentary "Climate of Doubt" that examines public perception and political response to climate change. Classes were usually 50% lecture and 50% in-class group work. Thus, students were used to interactive, small-group activities and whole-class discussion.


I used our third course exam to assess students' understanding of climate change, public perception, vulnerability, and responses through adaptation and mitigation. Exam grades show that most students could (a) correctly distinguish between climate change responses that would be categorized as mitigation or adaptations and (b) interpret a graph of predicted outcomes given the extent to which we mitigate greenhouse gas emissions.


My goals for incorporating this unit were to give students a stronger understanding of the following: how the public perceives climate change and its consequences, variation in the vulnerability of different regions of the world and groups of people, and the differences between mitigation and adaptation strategies. This unit helped me achieve all of these goals and got students more engaged in the material because they personally assessed their own perceptions of climate change and their community's vulnerability. This greatly enriched our class discussions and motivated students to talk about what they could do to mitigate the consequences of climate change.

Classroom Context

Related Teaching Materials