In Spring 2020 the Penn State Faculty Senate called on us to integrate climate change throughout the university curriculum. So far, 35 faculty from across the university have signed up, reaching 3,300 students.
Concerns about climate change and desire for its solutions are high, even during the pandemic (Pew). Moreover, because air pollution makes Covid-19 infections significantly worse (ProPublica, Medium), research into its significant health impacts (Vox) has been getting more attention, including from Black Lives Matter protesters highlighting how police, pollution, and pandemic all leave them unable to breathe (NBC). Millions of Americans are currently affected by climate-fueled wildfires, extreme weather, and floods. Yet media coverage of climate issues has dropped 45% since last year (MeCCO).
We need greatly to increase discussion of climate-related impacts and how they intersect with other issues. The most promising way to involve students is to meet them where they are: in their classes. Your classes can help connect students to the broader conversation about climate change and its solutions.
So we invite you to explore the overlaps between your courses and climate issues. Climate change crosses into almost every discipline. No one discipline studies all of it, and nearly every discipline can contribute to understanding and responding to some aspect of it.
Our Climate Crossover Initiative aims to grow a community of instructors helping one another to engage climate issues in their courses. To converge with climate events and Earth Day, this semester we are focusing in particular on Spring 2021.
If you are already teaching climate issues in your classes, please let us know by filling out the form, below. If you are interested in doing so, please tell us about your courses, and we’ll be in touch.
Who can participate?
Penn State Faculty, students, and staff from every campus are welcome to participate in the Climate Crossover by committing to bringing up climate issues in their courses.
Faculty: Add your class
Faculty are invited to devote at least one class session to climate issues during the 2020-2021 academic year. The initiative is open to all levels of faculty interest, ability, time, and knowledge about climate change.
Faculty with little prep time or resources can invite a guest speaker, or allocate a class period to a discussion.
Many faculty will want climate issues to be more tightly integrated into their course content, whether in a single class session, through a module, or over the course of a unit. For ideas, instructors are invited to consult colleagues and the Sustainability Institute’s Field Guide to Teaching Sustainability for ideas. The Crossover team will also help connect faculty through workshops and facilitating information sharing.
A number of faculty are planning projects that connect their students with students in other disciplines, for example, art students helping to make interactive visualizations of data that students in science classes are working with, or bioethics classes working with law students.
Ready to add your class?
Students: Bring up Climate issues and ask your teachers to participate
Students are encouraged to bring up climate issues in class discussion, and to connect them to course content. If you do, let us know, and, if you like, share what you said! Click below for ideas
Step up your game and encourage your instructors to add their class to our growing list of participants. Student voices are a powerful tool for shaping curricula and conversations about climate change. If nothing else, talking to your professors will let them know you care about climate action.
Share this page with your instructors. Want to anonymously suggest that your professor add your class to Climate Crossover? Use our handy web form to send them a prepared email