Teaching climate change

PORTLAND, Maine — Lucille Benedict is an associate professor at the University of Southern Maine who teaches climate change education to her general chemistry students.

“In the general chemistry course, I focus on talking about climate change as much as I can,” said Benedict. “It allows the students to understand how chemistry and climate change are so intertwined together.”

Chemistry allows an avenue into science communication that can give a student the understanding of how the properties of the world can influence each other, and in turn, explain those properties and the effects of those properties on our world. 

“It’s really about getting the information to the students around climate change,” said Benedict.

Scientists today tend not to clarify their studies to the general public so it is important that teachers such as Benedict instruct students on how to explain their climate change research clearly. 

“It is something I teach my students on it’s hard to take work that is so complex and distill it down,” said Benedict.

That said, Benedict does work with media studies teachers at the University of Southern Maine to explain climate change to the public. 

“I also [sic] work with other faculty in the university in communication and media studies, and in social work. I connect the story and the media perception and science of it all together because you don’t see disciplines coming together to tackle these important projects,” said Benedict.

Some of the ways people can do their part are to become a leader in their choices regarding climate change. Benedict takes the bus to work every day. By telling her students this, she becomes a leader of a small climate change movement. 

“You become the leader in these changes and you can make a bigger impact than just yourself,” said Benedict.

For students who want to communicate science to the general public, Benedict suggested that they take science classes. 

“Student who want to dive in and really do the research, I tell them that you need a really good science base,” said Benedict.

Teaching students how to educate other people about climate change science, taking the steps to become a leader of climate change action, and helping people learn about climate change are things that we can all do together. 

Published by Heather

Hello, I'm a 30-something science writer. I have my bachelor's degree in communication and media, and my associate's degree in liberal studies with a science concentration.

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