loading page

Perspectives on teaching climate science to first year undergraduate students by integrating sociopolitical contexts of climate change
  • Shaina Sadai
Shaina Sadai
University of Massachusetts Amherst

Corresponding Author:srogstad@geo.umass.edu

Author Profile


This study investigates how course design for a first year introductory class on climate change impacts student understanding of this global issue. The course was developed to situate the scientific knowledge of climate change alongside the political, economic, and social dimensions of this human-caused crisis. This intentional course development was to give students a more holistic understanding of the causes, impacts, and solutions. The curriculum is widely interdisciplinary with scientific concepts, like the functioning of the climate system and tools of climate system research, taught alongside politics, economics, media analysis, and social justice. A teaching as research project was conducted to assess how adding the sociopolitical context impacted student's ability to situate their knowledge of the scientific basis of climate change using systems thinking. As climate change, and scientific research, operate within the social and political landscape students became more informed citizens through learning these connections. Student participants in the study have a range of backgrounds and were all majors within the college of natural sciences during their first semester of college, though not all majoring in earth sciences