Helping Astronomers Help the World: How to Talk About Climate Change

Thursday, 27 June 2019 9 a.m. — 10 a.m. MST

AURA Lecture Hall

NOIRLab South Colloquia
TRAVIS RECTOR (University of Alaska, Anchorage & LSST and Gemini/NOAO Visiting Astronomer)

Many astronomers are deeply concerned about climate change and act upon it in their personal and professional lives, and many organizations within our profession have incorporated incremental changes. Collectively astronomers are in an excellent position to talk about climate change. Our classes reach a large number of students and cover related topics and we are often engaged in public outreach, e.g., through presentations in schools and planetariums. Climate change is a difficult topic to teach because it spans a wide range of subject areas, from physics to psychology. It is also a controversial topic, meaning that simply knowing the science content is not enough to effectively teach it.  As part of my talk I will introduce resources that are helpful for astronomers who wish to learn more about climate change, talk about effective interactive and inclusive methods for teaching the topic in Astro 101 classes, and discuss strategies for engaging the public.