Changing Climates was founded and is directed by SueEllen Campbell and John Calderazzo, both writers and professors in the CSU English Department. Concerned about the potential impacts of climate change and the lack of knowledge among the public, the initiative began as a project to help those members of the CSU community who are interested in climate change meet each other, learn more about related research and teaching on campus, and share their knowledge. In the past eight years, they’ve conducted multiple lecture series, helped create courses, and most recently hosted a showing of the Emmy Award-winning Showtime video series “Years of Living Dangerously.” We asked SueEllen and John to tell us a bit more about this project, and here’s what they said.
For most of the past decade, we have immersed ourselves in climate change education and outreach. Calling our initiative Changing Climates @ Colorado State, and working with a widespread, informal team of faculty and researchers across campus, we began by organizing talks for the campus and the community—about 120 of them, with speakers from 28 departments and all 8 CSU colleges, for a total audience headcount of over 6,000. Since then, with support from an NSF-funded research center (CMMAP) headquartered in CSU’s Department of Atmospheric Science, we have focused on two related initiatives: helping scientists be more comfortable and effective when they speak to non-specialists and running a website—100 Views of Climate Change—that offers (to interested adults, college-age and up) accessible, high-quality, information about many key aspects of climate change. Our recent efforts include workshops in storytelling and including climate change in English courses.
We both thrive on this work, which we find to be challenging (it’s not what we were trained to do) and immensely rewarding. We love putting our reading, teaching, and writing skills and interests to work on a problem that matters to everyone on our planet.
Also of interest: “Teaching aliens to talk: How global warming made me change my life,” an article published in High Country News in which John Calderazzo explains the shift that’s taken place in his work and the beginnings of the Climate Change @ CSU project. In the essay he muses, “We could drown in despair or become paralyzed. Or, we could try to do something.”