Climate, Climate Change, and Racism
Students engage in a discussion about climate change by both watching videos and reading an article to learn about the science behind climate change and some of the impacts of our warming climate. They then post their reflections, including at least one question, to a class discussion board. They also respond to at least two of the posts from their peers, citing evidence in their responses.
This assignment is from an online introductory geology course entitled "Natural Disasters."
Skills and concepts that students must have mastered
I remind students of our classroom discussion norms -- intended to assure a positive and safe discussion space for all -- prior to this assignment. Students in the class develop the discussion norms, collectively, during the first week of the course.
How the activity is situated in the course
This is the weekly discussion assignment for week 6 of a 12 week course. It follows the same format as previous discussion assignments.
Content/concepts goals for this activity
By completing this assignment, students will be able to:
- Describe the natural process of climate change
- Describe some of the impacts of climate warming
- Summarize big ideas for classmates based on their own investigation
Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity
By completing this assignment, students will be able to support their fellow classmates in probing the "text" more deeply to consider what is discussed beyond the initial content. This includes thinking about how climate change intersects with systemic racism to impact communities disproportionately.
Other skills goals for this activity
Description and Teaching Materials
There are five parts to this assignment:
- Watch the National Research Council (from the National Academy of Science) videos on climate change:
- Greenhouse gases (Chapter 3)
- Increased emissions (Chapter 4)
- Watch this video about the complexity of sea level rise (Verge Science interviewing Dr. Andrea Dutton)
- Read about how climate change and racism intersect (Unequal Impact: The Deep Links Between Racism and Climate Change, Yale 360)
- Select one "golden line" (see description of "golden lines" under teaching notes) from each of the videos/reading and post it to the discussion board. With each golden line, indicate why you thought this was a golden line from the text/portion of the video that addresses climate and climate change, in particular anthropogenic climate change AND indicate one question that has emerged from this content [a total of 4 golden lines and 4 questions].
- Respond to two other questions posed by your peers using evidence from the text/videos OR from an outside source (in which case, cite that source). A word of caution: because this topic is politically charged, it's easy to find information that is not accurate. A helpful place to start looking for resources is on the page of references and resources (see below).
Teaching Notes and Tips
A "golden line" is a quote of a sentence or two that you think best captures the essence of the text OR you find particularly compelling that makes you think OR is something you'd like to know more about. To select a golden line, pick the text and indicate where in the text/when in the video(s) you saw it. For the videos it may be a compelling image/visual rather than a specific text as well, you can indicate when in the video it occurred.
It should be noted that I (the instructor) am a white woman, and in that position, I can not fully understand the experience of a person of color in dealing with racism and the consequences of environmental racism. But I strongly believe it is my job to make all of my students aware of how racism plays a role in the geosciences, particularly my white students. But in this discussion, I try to make sure I am aware of any comments that may put an undue stress or emotional toll on the students of color in my class.
I use a rubric to grade this assignment. I provide it to the students along with the assignment, as part of the Transparency in Learning and Teaching (TILT) approach I use.
Golden Lines Rubric (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 15kB May13 21)
References and Resources
Here are the additional resources I provide to my students:
Helpful & Reliable Resources
- Great starting point, "Climate Central": Resources, graphs, interactives on climate research and consequences of climate change
- Challenges specific to the state of Washington, "Preparing for a Changing Climate"
- Research summaries around specific issues as they pertain to Climate change
- Interactive map with projections of sea level rise, rain and river floods, and other climate impacts
- State by state analysis of climate risks, "States at risk"
- NY times article on climate change by graphs
- US military bases on the front line of climate impacts report
- More global impacts of climate change, "National Geographic Overview"
- Global Flood impact analysis
- 2018 IPCC report on impacts of climate change within the next 20 years if we don't change our current course
- Recent (2017) report on global analysis of evidence and implications of climate change
- International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) FAQ's from 2007 (great overview)
- PDF version of the IPCC FAQ's, 2007 (Acrobat (PDF) 7.2MB May13 21)
- IPCC FAQ's from 2013 (Acrobat (PDF) 29.6MB Mar24 21)
- Visual that contextualizes climate change over time
- Satellite image of newly exposed crater from permafrost melt
- NY Times article on Climate change impact on a watershed
- Carbon Sequestration in rocks (possible solution?)
- Video on connection between storms and climate change
- Video on why people don't believe in climate change
- Video on what we CAN do to address climate change
- Video on the most impactful way you can address climate change
Carol Ormand provided assistance in publishing this activity online.