Students Use Arts to Understand Climate Change Challenges

Just a reminder that, while the STEM fields get a lot of attention and money these days, the arts haven’t completely disappeared.  They can even be quite useful.  This from a recent article in the New York Times:

SolUniversity courses on global warming have become common, and Prof. Stephanie LeMenager’s new class here at the University of Oregon has all the expected, alarming elements: rising oceans, displaced populations, political conflict, endangered animals.The goal of this class, however, is not to marshal evidence for climate change as a human-caused crisis, or to measure its effects — the reality and severity of it are taken as given — but how to think about it, prepare for it and respond to it. Instead of scientific texts, the class, “The Cultures of Climate Change,” focuses on films, poetry, photography, essays and a heavy dose of the mushrooming subgenre of speculative fiction known as climate fiction, or cli-fi. . . .

. . . . Stephen Siperstein, one of her students, recalled showing the documentary “Chasing Ice,” about disappearing glaciers, to a class of undergraduates, leaving several of them in tears. Em Jackson talked of leading groups on glacier tours, and the profound effect they had on people. Another student, Shane Hall, noted that people experience the weather, while the notion of climate is a more abstract concept that can often be communicated only through media — from photography to sober scientific articles to futuristic fiction.

“In this sense,” he said, “climate change itself is a form of story we have to tell.”

The full story is here.

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