SPEAKER: This is a production of Cornell University Library.
ANNE K. ARMSTRONG: OK, well it's great to have such a great audience here this afternoon. Thanks so much for joining us. I wanted-- I know Marianne was already acknowledged, but I just wanted to start off by acknowledging my co-authors, Dr. Marianne Krasny, who's the director of the Civic Ecology Lab and a professor in the Department of Natural Resources. And also, Dr. Jonathan Schuldt in the Department of Communication who's on sabbatical in Grenoble-- it's too bad we couldn't do this there, but he-- so his work focuses on the cognitive and social processes of environmental and-- communication related to environment and health and climate change.
So, since this book is meant in part for practitioners and people who are actively communicating and teaching about climate change in their everyday lives. I wanted to start by telling you my practitioner's story as the kind of the background for the book.
So in 2010, I moved to Wallops Island, Virginia on the Eastern shore, which is the peninsula that separates the Chesapeake from the Atlantic, and I was the Education Director at the Chincoteague Bay Field Station there for five years. And while most people know Chincoteague for Misty and the wild ponies and saltwater cowboys, I became much more familiar with aspects of coastal resilience and attempts to stave off sea level rise on the Eastern shore.
So into my second year there, Hurricane Irene hit; and then my third year there, Hurricane Sandy hit. And in that time, this little-- let's see, is this-- this little-- nope. That's OK. The satellite property that we owned on Chincoteague Bay up on the-- you see here on the left, last about 12 feet of land to erosion in front of that building, and was basically one storm away from that building crashing into the sea.
It exposed the septic tank, which thankfully wasn't actually active. And this is what the road going down to that building looks like on a day with a heavy rain and a high tide. So sea level rise is a clear and present danger for just about everybody living on the shore, we all had to deal with it in one way or another.
And so we wound up doing a Living Shoreline Project in partnership with Shippensburg University in Pennsylvania and a family-based nature learning program called Spark, master naturalists in the area, and just the locals townspeople in this little town of Greenbackville where this property was.
And while we were doing the Living Shoreline Project and installing oyster castles or oyster reefs, man-made oyster reefs, we were-- I just noticed that we had this really diverse group of people and started thinking about environmental education as a way of bringing people together around controversial issues like climate change. This is a sea level rise adaptation project for me, but that's not necessarily how other people were thinking about it. And yet we were here doing sea level rise adaptation.
So when I got to Cornell and started working with Dr. Krasny on climate change education literature review, that wound up being the basis for both my thesis and for this book, and that was part of a capstone project for a grant that she had, building environmental education capacity with environmental educators across the US.
So the goal of the book, then, is-- or the meat of the book is that we're trying to address the challenges of climate change communication from an environmental education perspective, but we really think it's not limited to environmental educators as an audience. It's people who are just in general interested in climate change communication.
And the goal is that it's a tool for program planning. I know-- some people-- it could be a tool for curriculum planning, but we just want it to be useful for beyond academic audiences. And so for today's talk, I'm going to just touch on some of the core concepts that we talk about in the book, give a little bit of an overview of climate change attitudes in the United States, and then talk a little bit about psychological distance, identity, framing, and trusted messengers, and throughout all of that, highlight some of our practitioner-- some practitioner voices.
So part of the format of the book is, in the beginning of the book, we include fictional vignettes of educators in different settings-- in a nature center, at a school, and in a community organization, and then we use those fictional vignettes as ways to link the core concepts from research in the book to actual practice.
And then at the end of the book, we cap the book off with case studies of these four climate change educators. Jennifer Hubbard-- excuse me-- Sanchez from Kentucky State University who works with students in their Minority in Agriculture and Natural Resources Program; Karen Beamish from the Albuquerque Academy, now retired, who founded a really amazing desert oasis teaching garden at her school; Maria Talero who left academia to-- and her philosophy degree to-- or not her degree, but she left her position to found Climate Courage, a psychological resilience program called Climate Courage; and Adam Ratner, the guest management-- the guest experience manager at the Marine Mammal Center who has become a regional leader for climate change education in Sausalito, California in the Bay Area.
So you'll hear some quotes from them throughout. So now onto-- OK, so what are-- these are educators who all talking about climate change in the-- across the United States. What kind of context are they teaching about climate change in? So climate change-- it's becoming a little bit less so thankfully. We think about-- tend to think about climate change as a controversial and polarizing issue.
But when you look at national average data, what you find is that we're just not nearly as polarized as we think we are on a national average. You might not say that depending on where you are locally, but nationally, 70% of Americans understand that climate change is happening, and 60% of Americans recognize that it's anthropogenic. So that it's human-caused, and that number, that percentage has been growing among Republicans and Democrats over the last few years. So we're just not that as polarized as we think we are around it.
This is-- so the national average of people who are worried about global warming. And if you haven't seen the Yale Climate Change communication resources and maps, they're really fun to explore. And so I would highly recommend looking up those, looking at those resources. But this is from their data visualizations on that-- at Yale.
So our national average of people who are concerned about global warming from 2018 is 61%. And if we look at data from ecoAmerica, when they asked this question, they say that this means-- they asked this question, have you noticed more severe weather or changing seasonal weather patterns over the last several years? They take that to mean that people think that climate change is happening, but we could argue about that later.
But you can see that people are-- Republicans, Democrats, Independents, everybody is noticing changes. So these are good signs. OK, so here we are in Tompkins County in this little red spot up there. We're like a hot spot for-- a hot spot for people. Where we're far above the national average for people who agree that climate change is anthropogenic, and that probably makes sense for those of you who live in Tompkins County. But it is interesting to see what it is like in your local area.
OK, but that doesn't mean that there still aren't forces kind of working against this-- a trend towards a decreasing polarization and increased movement towards things like the bipartisan climate change caucus or climate solutions caucus in the House of Representatives, of which our representative, Tom Reed, is part of.
There's still groups like the Heartland Institute, which is funded by the Koch brothers, who have sent out this publication called, Why Scientists Disagree About Global Warming to over 100,000 science teachers in the United States last year. And if you look closely at the book cover here, it says, the NIPCC Report on Scientific Consensus. The IPCC is the International Panel on Climate Change who puts out all of the reports, the big global scientific reports on climate change, and the NIPCC is a group that the Heartland Institute made up.
So anybody who is thinking that people who are skeptical about climate change are kind of ignorant, this is really smart, right? This is pretty brilliant, and so it's probably not about just about smarts.
Thankfully and we have a representative from the Paleontological Research Institution here today, Rob Ross. And we also have people doing really great climate change education to counteract this and-- the Paleontological Research Institute or some folks from-- so Ingrid Zabel, Don Duggan-Haas, and Robert Ross put out this book called The Teacher-Friendly Guide to Climate Change last year? Yeah, last year. And it's a really nice introduction to climate change science and systems thinking, and they are crowdfunding to send this to all of those teachers who receive the Heartland Institute publication. So that's pretty cool. So if you're feeling like-- this is a good climate change action if you're looking for one.
There's also lots of other organizations to look for good climate change education practices going on around the country who are working to counteract the forces of people like the Heartland Institute. We have professional development organizations like the climate literacy and energy awareness network, and Project Learning Tree, which put out this southeastern forests and climate change module, which if you're a classroom-- we have any classroom teachers here today? I know it's Ithaca Loves Teachers Week. That's OK. They're on-- So it's a really nice intro whether you're in the Southeast or not.
And the National Network for Ocean and Climate Change Interpretation, they have a really great website called ClimateInterpreter.org that has really nice resources for anybody who's interested in climate change. And then youth people who are doing a lot for youth, like ACE, Alliance for Climate Education, and our own New York State Wild Center up and Tupper lake in the Adirondacks, which has developed a template for running youth climate action summits.
So some of them-- one of the things that educators deal with and I think that we all deal with when we're thinking about climate change-- or maybe we don't, I don't know. Who spends to-- let's actually-- we can just do a poll right here. You can raise your hand if you think about climate change as an kind of abstract thing that might happen someday in the future. OK, nobody in this room.
OK, that's probably good. But research suggests that on average people, tend to think of climate change as something that's happening in the distant future. And one way that educators are trying to combat this is by describing climate change as something that's happening to their local communities and to not polar bears unless they live-- happen to live near polar bears.
So Jennifer Hubbard Sanchez, when she's doing her climate change 101 trainings for her students at Kentucky State University, she says that she thinks it's really hard for people to look at a picture of a polar bear and walk away and feel like they're going to make any sort of change or make any sort of-- yeah. Oh-- yeah-- to make any sort of change or want to make any sort of change.
And so when she-- she is the Project Learning Tree coordinator for her state. For those of you who don't know, Project Learning Tree is a nationwide curriculum development and professional development organization that operates in most states, I think, and it's about environmental education and forests. And so-- oops, that switched there.
So she put out a Kentucky supplement for the Southeastern forests and climate change module. Even though they're in the Southeast, she found that the forest types that they were talking about in the module were just not relevant enough, and so she made her own supplement, and then other states actually followed suit. So she was localizing things there.
And then I talked to another Project Learning Tree coordinator for my master's thesis, and she's mentioned that she talks to foresters a lot. So people who are not necessarily particularly open to talking about climate change all the time, but she said when-- we address it in ways that they've actually seen like increased insects-- so this is a picture of southern pine bark beetle, which has decimated a lot of pines in the Southeast. The increased insects, increased wildfire, they kind of understand it because it's framed in a way that directly relates to them. So again, localizing things making things close and relevant.
So in climate change communication research, researchers think about this-- this way of describing climate change through the lens of psychological distance. And psychological distance comes from a theory called construal level theory, which suggests that when you think about distant things, you think about things that are on an abstract level. And when you think about close things, things that are close to you or local or socially close, even, then you think about them in a much more concrete way, and then that changes the way you view information and the way you make judgment calls.
So we tend to think about-- we think about psychological distance on several different dimensions. On a spatial dimension-- so is it geographically close to me or far away? On a temporal dimension-- is it here and now or far off in time? On a social dimension-- to people who are close to me or to people who are far away from me. And then is it something that's certain? Which would be-- make your-- think about it, whatever the topic is in concrete terms, or is it something that's uncertain, which is more abstract?
So there's quite a body of research-- a growing body of research on psychological distance and climate change, and thus far, it's been kind of inconclusive. And sort of intuitively you might think, OK, well localizing things means that it's more relevant, and if it's more relevant, people are going to care more. But that makes the assumption that local equals relevant, which it doesn't necessarily. And I think there are probably also-- there are-- other researchers have brought up problems with, well are we actually measuring whether people are thinking about things on abstract versus concrete terms?
Anyway, that's not really the most important part. The important part is that there are some mixed findings here. So just as this one example, this is from a paper from a couple of years ago where they described climate change as happening in the near future, in the sort of middle future, and then in the far-- at the distant future, and then as close to people-- close in geographic relationship to you versus far away in Singapore. And this was based in New York state.
So they found that for Democrats, the description of climate change didn't matter. People supported climate policy across those framings of climate change. But for Republicans, if it was framed-- or if it was described as happening in the distant future but to people close to you, then they were more likely to support climate change policies.
So as somebody on the ground trying to teach about climate change, that's a little bit hard to parse and to figure out, OK, what do I do with that? And I think what it really means is that you kind of have to figure it out and look at your audience and see what they think, and test out some messaging to see what is going to work for your particular audience. And it's still being worked out in the research, too.
I'm going to go back to this quote from the-- quotation from the Project Learning Tree coordinator and just highlight the end here that, "Then they kind of understand because it's framed in a way that relates directly to them." So another way we can think about this from a research standpoint is through the lens of identity.
And identity as a way of defining or locating oneself in the world. We all have personal identities. Those are-- that's the way we define ourself in relation to everybody else in this room, but we also have social identities, and that's the way we identify ourselves as part of a group and not as part of other groups.
So in this picture, I'm here with a group of environmental educators, and I know when I go to-- when I'm with a group of environmental educators, I should have a mug like this. And it's OK if I wear Tevas and socks. It's totally fine. And so there are certain identity cues or there's behaviors, there are norms that go along with being part of a social identity group. And when-- and we tend to then view information through the lens of our identity.
And so if you-- just again, I want to-- this is a little shifting a little bit, but if you're a very liberal person who's very concerned about climate change and you read that IPCC report-- the International Panel on Climate Change report that came out in the fall that said we have 12 years to do something, then you might have come away with the conclusion that we're all doomed, in part because everybody that's in your social in-group is also coming to that-- that's something that is accepted in your social in-group.
If you were Republican, that might not be as accepted, and you might read the same information and be just as well-educated as that Democrat and come away with a totally different conclusion. And it's not because you're not well-educated or don't have the information, it's because that conclusion doesn't support who you are as a person and what your group thinks.
So I really like the way Maria Talero has phrased this revelation when she had this revelation. She's read a lot of the social psychology literature related to climate change, and she said that "In an odd way, this gives me hope. It recharges my batteries because it gives me the conceptual tools I need to stop bashing my head against the wall of 'their so--'" oh, there's a typo there. '"They're so stupid and ignorant,'" right?
So it's not about-- it's not about just giving information to people, it's not about people's being-- people being better educated or well-educated, very smart people are not coming to the same conclusions as I'm coming to, and it's in part because of the way our identity colors our view of things.
So in terms of tools that we have or to start-- to talk with people who might have different worldviews or different social identity groups, one of those tools from the communication realm of things is framing. And framing presents information strategically in a way that results in the listener interpreting that information in a specific way. So it's kind of like spin. Well, depending on who you talk to you.
So Jennifer, for example, frames climate change as the "unifying issue and opportunity of our time." That's probably now how you usually see climate change described. And she also-- but on the other hand, sometimes she very strategically doesn't talk about climate change-- or climate change when her students are taking what she thinks of as climate change actions.
So these are actually not her students. I did not have a picture of her students at ReForest Frankfurt. But her students helped put on this big ReForest Frankfurt event in 2016, and they had like hundreds of volunteers or students, they had all of the volunteer management, and they planted 2,500 trees on the KSU campus.
But nowhere do you see-- to them, this was a climate change mitigation action, but nowhere do you see climate change written about in the news coverage of the event, because they're in Kentucky and climate change is not-- and Mitch McConnell is the senator from Kentucky and he says all scientists have their ideas-- or scientists-- there are scientists on both sides who say different things, so it's not a particularly-- it wouldn't have been the event they wanted it to be, essentially. So that's another way of framing climate change by actually not talking about it, but still doing a climate action.
At the Marine Mammal Center, Adam Ratner focuses heavily on-- or tries to focus on systematic or community-level solutions for climate change. So that the actions we take are at the same scale as the-- or at least we attempt to make them on a larger scale-- similar scale to the problem of climate change.
And one way that he's done that with his volunteers-- so he's trained a core group of volunteers at the Marine Mammal Center to give climate change education and interpretation programming. And so you can see, at the-- they're in Sausalito, California, and they have solar panels powering all of their marine mammal tanks or pens, enclosures? I'm actually not sure what the correct word for that would be. And then they also have a big bank of electric car plug-in stations.
And when he was describing his volunteer trainings to me, he talked a lot about how just focusing on the organization-wide actions that were already occurring were really important for the volunteers feeling like they had collective efficacy to address climate change, and then used those as examples of what organizations can do in their interpretive programs.
So kind of in a nutshell, the educators that I spoke with for this book were framing climate change as local, they were trying to be positive about things, and they were highlighting collective actions. OK, this is what we tend to see in the news. They were-- what I've just been talking about are called-- thought of as emphasis frames. so these are things-- that's the-- the local positive collective, those are kind of the things that we're emphasizing. We're making certain parts of those stories-- the parts of those stories that are salient and come out that are emphasized are local, positive, and collective.
But this is more what we're used to. How would you describe this-- how would you describe this as framed, this title from The Guardian, which I should have up there?
AUDIENCE: Doom and gloom.
ANNE K. ARMSTRONG: The doom and gloom scenario, yeah, that's more what we're used to seeing. And they do have this little overwhelmed by climate change? Here's what you can do. And then you can click there. And they have some-- they have some nice-- but you kind of have-- you're sort of overwhelmed by the-- you are overwhelmed, because then you're overwhelmed by this picture of the fire-- fires in California. And they do have a nice list of things that you can do, including collective action.
We can also think about framing in terms of equivalency frames. So this is the-- you see this at the meat counter also where you can buy 92%-- oh where was it? Like, you don't see, this beef is 20% fat. It's usually the opposite way, it's 80% lean. So 97% of scientists agree that climate change is happening and is anthropogenic is logically equivalent to saying that 3% of scientists disagree, but they really emphasize different things, don't they? This is emphasizing consensus, and this says the same thing mathematically, but it emphasizes the disagreement.
OK, so the emphasis framing and the equivalency framing, those are kind of ways that we think about, OK, how do we tweak specific words that we're using? Well, we can also think about how do we actually create a whole program or a communication tool? How do we frame a whole program?
And so one, we can take a page from social movement theory here, and they identify core framing tasks, and the first is called diagnostic framing in which you diagnose the problem, identify the problem. And I think people tend to do a lot of that in the media, a lot of the, this is the problem with climate change, right?
But then if you look at the next two framing tasks, the second framing task is prognostic framing, identifying the solutions. And the third framing task is motivational framing, or a call to action. And so two-thirds of those framing tasks are more related to solutions and action and less related to, oh my God, climate change is a huge problem, what are we going to do?
So I like this, and I really like the-- Project Drawdown uses this framing of Game On versus Game Over, and I really like that. So I've taken that from them. So that's kind of the game on-- that's the motivation to act.
And Maria Talero uses some of this-- draws from this a little in her programs when she does these film showings with her groups where she has everybody meet in this-- she has a big movie showing, and they'll watch-- they'll start by getting on the same page, kind of just doing an introduction-- very brief introduction to climate change, and then they watch the movie. And at the end there's a call to action, and she actually invites local NGO-- local non-profit leaders and local organization leaders who will then have people sign up for volunteering. She might have somebody from 350.org there, Bill McKibben's group, and you can then just sign up to be a volunteer right then and there so it kind of locks you into an action.
If you're working-- if you're working in the field, I think our extension associates are really good at doing this, at finding the people who are trusted by the people that you're trying to work with. So another way that we can think about trying to reach different audiences who we might not be culturally close to would be through partnering with trusted messengers. Or maybe you are a trusted messenger, that would be great, too. Whoops!
So a trusted messenger has perceived expertise about the subject is-- and shared values with whomever that message is being given to, and then also the messenger has to match the message. So if you're doing a climate change and public health training but you don't know anything about public health, then you're not matching that public health message at that point. You probably want to partner with somebody who does know something about trust-- about public health.
So Jennifer Hubbard Sanchez used this-- her students created a climate change action project and part of their project was not just that Frankfurt-- the Frankfurt tree planting, but planting. They also developed-- designed reusable shopping bags, and then they went on Frank-- KSU has a bus that takes students from campus to Walmart every weekend, and so they went on the bus and they did climate change 101 little mini-talks on the bus, and then they handed out reusable bags.
And I know some of you are probably thinking, well, reusable bags aren't necessarily any better than plastic bags if people don't reuse them. But hopefully they reuse them. So-- but in this case, so these students, instead of having a faculty member or an administrator, whoever else it might have been-- these students were peers, and they were acting as the trusted messengers and-- for their other peers on the bus. And they look like they're having a good time.
OK, so what can we do here in Tompkins County? And I wanted to just kind of wrap up by looking at the sustainable Tompkins Finger Lakes Climate Fund page. And I was wondering, if you wouldn't mind, if we look at this, this is the Finger Lakes Climate Fund, and this allows you to purchase climate offsets-- or carbon offsets. So if you fly, then you can pay a little bit of money into this fund and it helps a family in Tompkins County make their home more-- like insulate their home so they don't have to use as much electricity or fuel oil or whatever it happens to be.
So OK, so if we're thinking about framing climate change and psychological distance and trusted messengers, what are some of the ways-- could I just have a few people call out how you would describe the Finger Lakes Fund and Sustainable Tompkins framing here? Local?
AUDIENCE: People you know.
ANNE K. ARMSTRONG: Oh. OK, people you know. OK, so it's just like geographically local, socially local, socially close.
AUDIENCE: It lets [INAUDIBLE] whitewash.
ANNE K. ARMSTRONG: Mmm. And that's a good point. So maybe it's not-- so maybe it's not socially close for some people because it doesn't show people who are like them at all.
AUDIENCE: Sort of like a collective aspect when you're working together with people that are--
ANNE K. ARMSTRONG: Yeah. So there's some collective. Right, there's a collective aspect to it, it feels like civic engagement in some ways. Yeah, David?
AUDIENCE: Well, looking at Tom, like a lot of people would raise their eyebrows-- wow, he's a [INAUDIBLE] wood-burning furnace.
ANNE K. ARMSTRONG: [LAUGHS]
AUDIENCE: That's kind of like pretty dedicated.
ANNE K. ARMSTRONG: And can you explain a little more?
AUDIENCE: Well, a lot of people would think burning wood's pretty green to begin with.
ANNE K. ARMSTRONG: Gotcha, yeah.
AUDIENCE: It's not like [INAUDIBLE] fossil fuel.
ANNE K. ARMSTRONG: Right, right, I see what you're-- yeah.
AUDIENCE: He does have a green [INAUDIBLE]
ANNE K. ARMSTRONG: OK.
AUDIENCE: Right, to continue on that thread, it's like there's no opportunity to get on the same page.
ANNE K. ARMSTRONG: Mmm.
AUDIENCE: You're assuming that the person coming to this already thinks that there is a need to compensate or [INAUDIBLE] some action. So it's like they're either missing that introductory-- and maybe I'm not seeing the website.
ANNE K. ARMSTRONG: Yeah, this is not the whole website. This is just the Finger Lakes Climate Fund page, yeah.
AUDIENCE: But I mean, there's no personal interaction. You really need to be motivated--
ANNE K. ARMSTRONG: Mm-hmm. Right. So you were probably-- if you were going to go to the carbon offsets page, you may have been searching for that information already. So this may be for people who are not-- who are-- yeah, yeah. Rich?
AUDIENCE: Yeah, I like that at least there's sort of an implied clear cause and effect, right? There's a guy who's giving [INAUDIBLE]
ANNE K. ARMSTRONG: Yeah.
AUDIENCE: Whether it's not necessarily that he's giving to them, but it's sort of implied that oh, here are the inputs, and here are the kinds of outputs.
ANNE K. ARMSTRONG: Right. And that's one of the things that's been critiqued about other carbon offset plans, is you give your money to somebody and to the organization and then it gets sent off to Colombia, or to a coffee farmer and you're not sure whether the money actually gets there or not. Other-- yeah, David?
AUDIENCE: Well, there's one part, like the footprint there where she's [INAUDIBLE] carbon footprint.
ANNE K. ARMSTRONG: Oh yeah. So that's a nice visual metaphor to go along with the-- mm-hmm. Oh, yeah.
AUDIENCE: --circle [INAUDIBLE].
ANNE K. ARMSTRONG: Oh. So a nice visual metaphor to go along with-- to go along with the metaphor of a carbon footprint to begin with. OK, well, let's see, I think we hit just about everything here. A little bit of collective, a little bit of local. Maybe some trust. OK, well thank you. That's just about all that I have, and just in summary, we've talked about-- gone over a little bit about psychological distance, identity framing, and trusted messengers, and linked in some participant or practitioner perspectives on these climate change communication core concepts.
So I wanted to acknowledge Cornell University Press for being awesome editors and working with us through this process, and the Cornell University Library for hosting the event and Chats in the Stacks. This was funded in part by the US EPA and USDA, but they did not-- they have not-- what does that US-- that typical EPA claim-- that disclaimer where-- this does not reflect their opinions, especially now.
And I'd also like to thank the-- oh, this needs to be updated, Rich. Civic Ecology Lab. It was the Human Dimensions Research Unit, it is now the Cornell Center for Conservation Social Sciences. And-- but for giving me feedback on early chapters. And our online-- the Civic Ecology Lab runs a series of online courses for professional development and environmental education, one of which is the climate change online course that you heard mentioned by Marianne in the beginning.
But I have gained so much inspiration from them. There are people all over the-- we just have this really great community of people all over the world working on climate change in Nigeria, in China, in Guatemala, in-- we've just started this really great climate change online fellows project-- or Marianne has started it. And so there's just a lot of inspiring things going on in our online course community.
And then I also like to thank Mike Hoffman, Director of the Cornell Institute for Climate Smart Solutions for giving us feedback on the climate change science chapter in particular. So thank you very much for being here today. This is our-- if you'd like to find out more about the book or have questions, you can email the Civic Ecology Lab, and that will get forwarded to me, and then you can go to CivicEcology.org to learn more about our courses if you're interested.
And then this book is open access. You can download it for free as a Kindle or you can go to this link here or just search Cornell Open and you'll find it, and you can download it as a PDF for free. So I'm very happy to take questions.
MARIANNE KRASNY: Before we do questions, I just want to do one other acknowledgment. When we went over this, I forgot to mention to you that you might not know that the Cornell Library Open Access Fund [INAUDIBLE]
ANNE K. ARMSTRONG: Oh, right.
AUDIENCE: --open access [INAUDIBLE]
ANNE K. ARMSTRONG: Right.
ANNE K. ARMSTRONG: Thanks, Marianne. Yep? What, was that an arm or a stretch?
ANNE K. ARMSTRONG: OK.
AUDIENCE: All right.
MARIANNE KRASNY: Oh, bring the mic there.
AUDIENCE: I don't know if this is an answerable question, but you presented it early on some of the typical ways to reach audiences that might be-- might otherwise be skeptical through local relevance or trusted sources and so on. Do you have a sense of which one of those-- maybe this is already in the research literature, which one of those is the most powerful?
ANNE K. ARMSTRONG: I don't know if that-- I don't know-- I think that's an unanswerable question because I think it probably depends on-- with whom you're working, and then I don't think any of those operating on its own would be enough to-- if you're-- and we can debate about whether it's even worth it to try and persuade people who are very staunchly not-- like I am-- I do not think that climate change is happening, we're very staunchly skeptical of climate change.
I'm rambling a bit. But you could-- so OK, so there's that debate. Do we even try and work with them or are we going to work with the concerned middle? And then I would think that you wouldn't want to just rely on one tool, and that you'd also want to do some experimentation.
AUDIENCE: So some of those people might be in the concerned-- in that middle group, I imagine, people kind of on the fence.
ANNE K. ARMSTRONG: Oh, right, OK.
AUDIENCE: But I-- yeah, I know it's probably not something that could be-- and maybe there's some interaction factor there between some of the variables, but--
ANNE K. ARMSTRONG: Yeah. I guess I--
AUDIENCE: --you're thinking about going into a rural area, you have to make some choices about this is going to be the best approach, and so I just wondered what-- yeah.
ANNE K. ARMSTRONG: I think-- so you might take-- so that Will Steger-- Climate Generation-- A Will Steger Legacy is a really cool organization out in Minnesota that does-- that has done some neat community outreach using storytelling, and they work with-- they do these-- they call them-- they call them convenings? I can't remember exactly what they call them. Have you heard of it?
ANNE K. ARMSTRONG: Oh, OK. So--
AUDIENCE: But I don't know the details, so--
ANNE K. ARMSTRONG: OK. And they usually have a local meteorologist and a couple of local scientists, and then they work with people in the community to develop their own climate stories that are then presented to the whole community, and then it's recorded And put online. And I think that they've had pretty good luck with the meteorologists-- the local meteorologists are well-respected usually, and that's kind of been their ticket in. I don't know if that helps or not.
AUDIENCE: Yeah, yeah.
ANNE K. ARMSTRONG: Yeah.
AUDIENCE: Yeah, I kind of pretty basic question which I think is related to this, but what's your goal? Or what are-- you know. But firstly, thanks for the book, and the work I think is great, but, I mean, as an educator, how do you think about where your goal is as an educator and how do you know whether you're achieving your goals?
ANNE K. ARMSTRONG: Oh, OK. So I guess it depends on the audience I'm working with and the program that I'm trying to do. So-- because depending on the audience that I'm working with, I'm-- if I'm working with an audience who is pretty aware of climate change and are already very concerned about climate change, then my goal-- I can set a different goal. The goal might be to move-- instead of just having them be really worried about climate change, but not exactly know what to do, then the goal might become, OK, let's engage in some collective action together.
But we have people, for example, in the-- like our students from the Philippines in the online course who are just dealing with getting people up to speed with very basic levels of climate change awareness. The goal of their programs is really just building awareness. And so I think-- does that answer your question? Or does it--
AUDIENCE: Yeah, partly. I mean, it's related a little to this idea that like a number of researchers in your identity camp-- I mean, there's plenty of people who actually know all the facts and still will not say, I believe in climate change for identity reasons that relate to their identity, but they may well be willing to do some-- if they're farmers to do some planning and--
ANNE K. ARMSTRONG: Right.
AUDIENCE: So like I kind of trying to get at the heart of what the answer is it depends on the audience, but I was just wondering as an educator what you care about.
ANNE K. ARMSTRONG: Oh yeah, OK. I guess my ultimate goal would be to have people-- as many people as possible working on climate change mitigation and supporting climate policy and maybe being OK with some community solar in their backyards. And yeah, so that would be an-- that would be my ultimate goal. But depending on my specific programs, maybe that would be tailored to some intermediate outcomes. Yeah, Bruce?
AUDIENCE: Thanks, this was really great, I really enjoyed this. I wanted to ask about maybe sort of the process of producing the book. I mean, because part of what the book is is a really great researched practice example, which is a really hard thing to do. So I'm wondering about that process of trying to take those four teams, those four research themes and adapt them and use them in a way that would be accessible to the practitioner audience you're trying to reach.
ANNE K. ARMSTRONG: Yeah, so I think a couple of ways we did that-- well, I think it helped that I had just come right from being an environmental educator in the field, and so-- and I was really interested in this because I wanted-- it would have been resources that I would have been really keen to know about when I was writing grants and thinking about how to do our living-- phrase our Living Shoreline Project. I think I would have done things differently if I-- a little bit differently reaching out to our city or town of Greenbackville if I had read my book.
And so immediately when we started thinking about the literature review, I started trying to categorize things in terms of how does this actually relate to what environmental educators do, and then we kind of plugged it into a program developed-- just a very generic program development cycle, setting a goal, strategizing how you're going to meet that goal, developing your activities, monitoring-- actually implementing, monitoring, evaluating, et cetera.
And then figuring out, OK, where in that program development cycle are we actually-- does this research really get us to? And we realized it's like those first part's kind of assessing your audience-- setting your outcomes, assessing your audience, which is where the identity literature really comes into play, and then strategizing how you're going to talk about climate change-- so the actual programs. That's how we pushed it.
MARIANNE KRASNY: Just to follow up on that, like in terms of the-- and Bruce's question, maybe you can talk-- I'm not sure if this was part of your thinking that went into it, but for your master's degrees and those individuals that you interviewed, maybe that helped in the process developing the book also?
ANNE K. ARMSTRONG: So right. So my master's thesis was on the [INAUDIBLE] research translate-- it was on how environmental educators are using-- are aware-- to what extent they're aware of and then using climate change communication research in their practice. And so I interviewed program coordinators from some key climate change education programs.
And yeah, so I was doing those interviews while I was also writing the book and thinking about-- I think Marianne probably was the one who convinced me to do the vignettes to help frame the research concepts in terms of practice from the very beginning, and that probably-- that helped me a lot. And then actually our reviewers gave us some really good feedback on presenting negative cases and how not to do things as part of the vignettes also.
Yeah, Sarah and-- Sarah-- Kimberly?
AUDIENCE: Thanks for the talking, it was really great. I was wondering if you could speak a little bit about either related to the work that you did right for this with working with a diverse community. You said that there are some things that you would change about going back, or in more general, people working with that adverse community, what would be the number one or two things that they should implement and change in your opinion?
ANNE K. ARMSTRONG: OK, so a couple of the things that I would have changed from the beginning would have been-- I probably would-- I would have started meeting in the town that we were doing the-- so the first planning meetings that we did were in the kind of wealthier golf course community that was right next door but that had nice meeting space. And then we started-- but we realized that wasn't a great idea after we'd gotten none of the Greenbackville townspeople to that meeting.
And then started partnering with the fire hall and having our meetings at the fire hall. And I went to a couple of church community luncheons also to just make myself a presence in the town. And I think-- I also-- so I would have-- so I probably would have done more-- made more of an effort to reach out to the community in different ways through the fire hall or the-- gone to church luncheons a little bit more often if I could have.
And then in terms of working-- so the group that we worked with, the Shore People Advancing Readiness for Knowledge or SPARK, that was kind of a-- that was a program that was already in place and in process, and I think the key-- so that was a group of-- I just like-- it just-- really overrepresented-- or overrepresentation in terms of the general demographics on the Eastern shore of Latinos and in African Americans, and then-- so we just had-- so it was a-- relatively speaking, a diverse group.
And the work that the program coordinators had done to make that happen was just working really, really hard to build trust in the very beginning, having Spanish-speaking parent coordinators and people who looked like the kids that they were trying to serve as parent leaders. So I think those-- so the trusted messengers piece was a big part, and it took a long time, I think. I was just lucky enough to work with them at kind of like an end goal-- or the end stage. Yes, right here.
AUDIENCE: I think that there are a couple of phases here of this whole thing that we think about a little bit. There are plenty of people who agree that yes, climate is changing. I mean, anyone who looks at when went do lilacs blue and how many bad storms do we have are going to probably say, yes, something's happening here.
But the other, whatever it is, 40% of the people are dug in on this, and they're dug in for a reason. They're dug in because they have a personal investment in denying what's happening. So once you get past that and once you sort of use some of these techniques to try to convince them that, yes, maybe something's going on here, then I think you have not only them, but a lot of the people in that first group that were not on the second phase of this process, which is the first part's kind of abstract, the second part is much more concrete, which means you have to change. You have to change a lot of the things you're doing in order to address this concept and this problem that we have.
And I think at that stage, that's where the rubber meets the road, because a lot of people are more or less willing to buy into this thing in the abstract, but when it comes to the concrete, eh, I don't know about that part of it.
ANNE K. ARMSTRONG: I think that's a really good point and probably something that we all struggle-- well, I don't know if we all, but I definitely struggle with on a daily basis is that the rubber meeting the road and walking-- walking the walk and as well as talking the talk. Yeah, thank you for that I guess I can only say is that I think being part of a collective group really helps.
And actually, Marianne's climate change online fellows program right now, they're working on-- they're going to choose a climate change solution from project drawdown, which is categorized or listed the top-- they've gone through and they've found that the top 100 climate change-- they've listed the top 100 climate change solutions based on carbon-- reduction of carbon dioxide emissions, and so her fellows are going to choose one of those and then work with their social networks to-- well, however that might be defined. It could be a social media network, it could be their own business, and then work to-- work together on that one solution. Yes?
AUDIENCE: Do you have any advice or guidance for K to 12 teachers or people who work with them on how to integrate this to existing formal classrooms?
ANNE K. ARMSTRONG: Yeah. So-- well I think there's some curriculum-- there are curricula out there, but then it is-- I mean, it is part of NGSS in New York state. And so you can tie-- you can tie it directly to standards in that case. And then if you're looking to start with curriculum guidance, I think-- I know it's called Southeastern Forests and Climate Change. But it's just a really good, how do I teach about climate change in a classroom-- classroom where students might be unsure about this based on their parents' political affiliations. It's a really good way of getting students to think about other perspectives. It has some good basic climate science in it as well.
And then, of course, there's-- you might want to check out the Paleontological Research Institute's Teacher-Friendly Guide to Climate Change. Actually, where we have been running these climate change webinars through the Civic Ecology Lab and Cornell Institute for Climate Change-- Climate Smart Solutions, and our next one is going to be with Elise Trelegan from-- on March 14 on project-based learning and climate-- yeah, project-based learning in climate change. So how to teach climate change using project-based learning, so that might be of interest, too.
And she's coming at that from the meaningful watershed education experience perspective, which I think we don't have to do in this part of New York state because we're not part of the Chesapeake Bay. Watershed, that is. Yes?
AUDIENCE: Yeah. Sorry to make you run all the way across-- cross-country. Thank you. First of all, this is lovely. I was curious, maybe what you thought about how data and maybe visualizing data fits into this. I know that you visualize data for us in terms of opinions. You mapped it, you showed representations of percentages.
And I know-- I was interested because the framework you gave about diagnosing what's happening is being one-third of the framework, and you said that media often is part of that. I assume representations of the data showing very persuasively what's happening certainly I can imagine falling into there, but does that kind of sort of representations of research or representation impacts have a role as you see it going forward in the other parts of the process? Or how might confronting people with the data about the research-- yeah, I guess play not just at that very first stage, but other parts of it?
AUDIENCE: Hi there. Isn't it? It is on. If you look at my hair, you'll notice that it's a little bit white, and I don't expect to be around in 2050. 9 billion people on this earth, India and China will be living better than ever. The developing countries will continue to try to live like us-- overstatement, perhaps.
And then when you look at some of the legislation that one of our New York state representatives has put on the table, all of this thing leads one to believe that, hey wait a minute, the way I do my-- I believe in climate change, by the way. The way we till our gardens and turn them into organic farms is not going to do the job.
ANNE K. ARMSTRONG: No. No, we need some pretty broad-scale actions. But-- so OK, so I'm going to counter that with there are some-- Mark McCaffrey from-- who works for the UN has-- and has done some consulting for Project Drawdown did a research paper with somebody at the Climate-- at the-- it's the Resilience institute in Sweden? Oh, OK. What's that institute called/ Stockholm Resilience Center, OK.
Anyway, they did some research looking at the scale-- so they took the Drawdown, Project Drawdown solutions and looked at the scale at which those solutions would be most effective when they were implemented, and they found that at a scale of 10-- around 10,000 100,000, those drawdown solutions were the most effective at actually drawing down carbon-- carbon dioxide emissions.
So-- so right. So we need really broad-scale action, but at the same time right now, what we have is grassroots action that's doing-- that's doing most of the legwork at the state level and at the local level. We have a lot of mayors across the country who are dedicated-- who have dedicated themselves to trying to meet the Paris Agreement even though the Paris Agreement goals-- even though our federal government has said that they will step away from the Paris Agreement.
So right, there's a lot to be doomy and gloomy about, but I try and stay hopeful looking at-- you know what's made me really inspired over the last few months is Greta Thunberg, the Swedish high school student who has been striking every Friday? She's been striking from school one day week in front of-- in Stockholm for climate change, and she was just at Davos as part of-- to talk to business leaders about climate change.
In March 15, there is now a worldwide school strike. So high school students-- I think that-- like our high school students and youth are really motivated and woke about climate change, and so I take a lot of hope in that and hope that they can move the needle. Because I have a two-and-a-half-year-old, so I have to.
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In a Chats in the Stacks book talk at Mann Library in February 2019, Anne K. Armstrong, doctoral student in the Cornell Department of Natural Resources presented her new book, Communicating Climate Change: A Guide for Educators (Cornell University Press, 2018), co-authored with Marianne E. Krasny, Professor in the Department of Natural Resources and Jonathon P. Schuldt, Associate Professor in the Department of Communication at Cornell University.
Armstrong proposes effective tools for educators in understanding the complexity of the science of climate change and the socio-political contexts in which climate change is taking place. Also discussed are climate change educational programs that foster both dialogue and subsequent action in classrooms of all levels.