Over the past year, I have had the great opportunity to work with faculty and students at the The University of Maine’s Climate Change Institute and their NSF-funded Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship (IGERT) – the first of its kind to focus explicitly on adaptation to abrupt climate change. Here is a short description on the rationale for the program, a joint initiative between the Climate Change Institute and the School of Policy and International Affairs at the University of Maine.
The paradigm that climate change operates slowly and gradually shifted with the discovery of abrupt climate change (ACC), which refers to rapid state changes in the climate system that are either transient or persistent, and of variable magnitude. We now recognize that abrupt climate change is one of the greatest threats to the sustainability of human society and ecosystem services, yet economic and social systems are rarely designed for abrupt nonlinear environmental change. The Adaptation to Abrupt Climate Change (A2C2) IGERT is a doctoral training program for students in earth sciences, ecology, anthropology, archaeology, international affairs, and economics. A2C2 is designed to train the next generation of natural and social scientists to meet the critical societal challenge of human adaptation to abrupt climate change (ACC).
In the Spring of 2013, I taught a week-long workshop for students involved in the IGERT program and other faculty and professionals at the University of Maine. Participants were introduced to research and strategies for more effectively engaging the public and policymakers on sustainability-related issues. The workshop also covered different schools of thought, modes of practice, and areas of research relevant to navigating the intersections among science, policy, and communication. The goal was for participants to gain an integrated understanding of the institutions, organizations, and actors involved in public communication and policymaker engagement; and the different roles they can play as experts, professionals and educators.
In Fall 2013, I participated in a retreat for faculty, organizational partners and students involved in the A2C2 program. To generate discussion and small group idea generation, I presented a brief overview on communication challenges and strategies relevant to preparing for abrupt climate change. In my presentation, I focused particularly on sea level rise and other coastal impacts. I also created a web page and list of relevant readings and resources that I will continue to update. You can find the list at the link below.