communicating climate change: how to connect science with stories

I often speak about climate change at colleges and universities. This past month, I had the opportunity to share Climate Listening Project films and host a public discussion at my alma mater, the University of West Florida on communicating climate change and how to connect science with stories.

In addition to my presentation and film screening, I joined a class discussion for the UWF GeoScholars program. GeoScholars emphasizes multidisciplinary research between GeoSciences and other STEM fields. This research is meant to engage both faculty and student in a 2-year research project that will have both intellectual merit and broader professional impacts throughout the program. This semester they are focusing on communicating science not only to colleagues and other geoscientists but also to the general public.

A professor at the University of West Florida also spoke with me after my presentation about their exciting new Minor in Strategic Communications for the Sciences Program. The minor prepares students with the skills and expertise to inform the media and public about emerging issues and research in science, medicine and technology.  Students will learn professional communication strategies, media relations tactics and advanced methods for presenting complex scientific information to a general audience. Students will build their skills and portfolios through hands-on courses that combine communication, media and persuasion theory and professional practice. Strategic Communication for the Sciences minors graduate poised to serve as advocates and ambassadors for the scientific community.

My notes: After my presentation, I enjoyed discussion with students, faculty, and community members. A student asked if sociology would be a good major to help people share their climate stories through listening. Another student reached out about how to combine their graduate degree in science and their passion for acting. One student asked about how to communicate science with the general public through film utilizing NASA Earth observations. They said the auditorium had never been filled for a science speaker before. They said people from the community had never come to the campus for a science speaker before. They said they had never seen so many people line up to talk with a speaker after a presentation before. Folks in Florida and the South are concerned about climate change. Folks want to talk about how to talk about climate change in their communities. Each person can make a difference. We all have unique skills and there are a million ways to tell stories, help others tell their stories, and connect the dots on science and stories for climate change solutions. I’m inspired!! Thanks to all at UWF for a great event.