Climate Change Problem Solving (CLIMATE & EAS 480)

This course was first taught in 2006 as Climate Change: The Move to Action.  It is still listed by that name in the catalogue. Climate 480 was designed as a cross-discipline graduate - undergraduate course on climate change, which addresses critical analysis and complex problem solving. It explores the interface between climate change and all aspects of society. This course has attracted students from many colleges and departments at the University. The target is the students who wants to incorporate climate knowledge into their profession and public engagement.

In the course, every year, there is an introduction to climate science that relies on the philosophy of scientific reasoning. For the most part, we rely on logic that is rigorous but not mathematical. All sections of the course introduce methodologies of complex, multi-disciplinary, and multi-jurisdictional  problem solving. Otherwise, the sections vary from year to year based on what is happening with climate change in our society and student interests. 
Course Description

We are unique in history. Through sound scientific investigation, we are presented with the knowledge that the Earth’s climate is warming, and that the climate will warm rapidly for generations to come. We know that past changes of Earth’s climate, small in comparison to those which we will experience, caused great changes in society. These changes were sometimes positive, for example agricultural prosperity, and sometimes negative, for example agricultural failures, famines, and migrations. Climate change provides personal, regional, national and global challenges to our selves, our children, and our grandchildren. Adaptation to an always-changing climate will be required. With the knowledge that we hold, and the improved knowledge that we are generating, we have the luxury of choice. Do we invest today, pro-actively, in developing resilience and adaptation strategies, or do we simply, like our ancestors, react to changes in the climate?

This course explores the intersections of the science of climate change with society: policy, business, economics, public health, energy, ecosystems, environmental engineering, information science, journalism, religion, etc. The problem is approached from the perspective that there are communities with heterogeneous interests that are vested in both adapting to and mitigating climate change. The course will expose students to the fundamental factual and contextual elements of climate change and the interface of climate change to societal interests. In order to facilitate effective participation in the response to realized and predicted climate change, this knowledge is framed in a structured approach to complex problem-solving practiced in real-world projects

The course includes lectures and has included numerous outside lecturers to provide some depth in specific subjects. Readings are drawn from a collection of material; they introduce context and support discussion. The course strives for rigor in thinking, but does not rely on a mathematical description of the science of climate change. A primary goal of the course is the development of critical analysis skills to address complex problems.