Edit embedded media in the Files Tab and re-insert as needed.
Climate change is one of the pressing issues that we face today. Any discussion about our future is incomplete without engaging with climate change, global warming, and associated concerns around sustainability. As the discourse around climate change gains momentum, it becomes critical that we foreground how we understand the phenomenon itself. An integral step in this direction is to understand climate change through diverse perspectives and epistemologies, avoiding narrow and homogenized versions of what climate change and sustainability mean.
In response to this social issue we, Vinisha Singh Basnet and Moazam Hakim under the guidance of Prof. Sean Kennedy in the department of urban and regional planning at UIUC, designed an undergraduate open seminar, Climate 101: Mitigation, Adaptation & (In)Justice, which delves into the multiple facets of this spiraling global problem. This course was developed with support from the 2019-20 Global Intersections Grant of the Center for Global Studies at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. While climate change is a global problem, this course aims to disaggregate this issue by pursuing nuanced perspectives within diverse contexts that include but are not limited to gender, race, and geopolitics perspectives. Understanding climate change through multiple frameworks is the first step in finding solutions, as its catastrophic impact on the planet is only exacerbated by our urge to homogenize the world and model it after the global “North”.
The course consists of eight modules and entails a basic understanding of the ongoing debates pertaining to Climate Change from global perspectives. It covers the factors that comprise present climate phenomenon, responses to climate change, and the questions of inherent social (in)justices. Students will approach climate change from diverse sociopolitical standpoints that include gender, race, and geopolitics. The course intends to ask critical questions: for example, who can speak about climate change? Whose knowledge is considered? What kinds of future(s) are imagined, and by whom? The pedagogy of this course involves engaging with relevant literature, case studies, student activities, and classroom discussions [how are you including those voices that are not being heard].
In designing this course, I faced two major challenges. The first was to make these issues engaging for students. Even though climate change can feel like a daunting problem, as educators, we should be mindful that students are motivated to act towards sustainable futures. As a course designer, I facilitate discussion about different global efforts that are already underway in response to climate change using relevant literature, case studies and classroom discussions. Paying attention to diverse solutions will help students avoid the pitfalls of tackling inevitably complex problems, which results in passivity and lack of action. The second challenge was to navigate between the scope and scale of the issue. As an educator, it is often recommended that we localize problems to help students contextualize them within their everyday lives. However, climate change is a problem that extends across huge timescales and geographies, thus is difficult to fully comprehend on a small scale.
Despite the subject matter of this course being climate change, the more implicit focus is on critically engaging with different contextualized bodies of knowledge. The way the course is organized, students will get a sense of how ‘knowing’ is embedded in how different people inhabit and experience the world. The shifts in the understanding of students are not just aimed at problematizing a unified understanding of climate change but problematizing the process of ‘knowing’ itself. Overall, I feel that the process of designing this course generated many productive tensions, and I hope engaging with these tensions will be fruitful for the students.
1. Picture credit: Left - Mellimage/Shutterstock.com, center - Montree Hanlue/Shutterstock.com.
Follow the website for more details https://climate101.web.illinois.edu/. For your question(s) related to course please write to Vinisha Singh Basnet, at email@example.com
The Global Intersections Projects is made possible through Title VI funds provided by the US Department of Education. Further information could be found at https://cgs.illinois.edu/initiatives/global-intersections-student-research-and-project-grants