Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Getting People to Talk About Climate Change

Penn State’s Sustainability Institute announced the release of a curriculum guide and an upcoming speaker, both aimed at getting people to talk about climate change. Both events were spurred by the release on the institute’s short film “Climate Stories,” which invites viewers into a conversation on climate change.

The curriculum guide, titled “Climate Stories: Connections for Discussion,” works in concert with the film. It is available to faculty and community members interested in using the film to explore climate change in their courses and communities. The guide, part of the Field Guide to Teaching Sustainability, teaches basic climate change science, the sociopolitical context of climate change in the United States, methods for communicating about the topic and ways to develop listening and speaking skills. The guide also directs users to relevant resources.

Additionally, Seamus McGraw will speak and read from his book “Betting the Farm on a Drought,” which informed the making of the film. The event will take place at 12:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 14 in Foster Auditorium, Pattee Library. McGraw will talk about the importance of storytelling, listening and the need for good dialogue about climate change in a polarized political environment.

“Political division, some bad actors, a lot of passion and misinformation have prevented people from taking the action needed to address climate change,” said Peter Buckland, academic programs coordinator at the Sustainability Institute and author of the guide. “But with a common understanding of the science, by focusing on common values and by sharing and listening, solutions can be developed.”

In the film, McGraw; Richard Alley, notable climate scientist and professor of geosciences; Janet Swim, professor of psychology; and Steve Sywensky, a local fly fisherman, discuss the challenges of human-caused climate change and the importance of people talking about it.

“Climate change is one of the most polarizing subjects, but if our democracy is going to tackle the problem of climate, then we have to really talk about it,” Buckland said.

For more information on the film, curriculum guide or McGraw’s talk, contact Buckland at

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