Global warming issues have finally been delivered en masse to students across America, thanks to an initiative named “Focus the Nation” this past Thursday. With more than 1,500 universities, community colleges and even some high schools, it was billed as the nation’s largest-ever “teach-in.”
The organizers of the event, including founder Eban Goodstein, an economics professor at Lewis & Clark College in Portland, wanted the event to be more than just preaching to the converted. This was a chance for students of varied courses to hear about climate change and warming, when they might not have otherwise ventured in to the scary world of environmentalism.
“It’s about infusing sustainability into the curriculum of higher education, so students can graduate prepared to deal with the world they have been handed,” said Lindsey Clark, 23, who organized events at the University of Utah.
And this event wasn’t just for the science students either, students from chemistry, costume design, philosophy and urban planning all got a taste of what the current environmental problems will have on their chosen careers.
“For my students, three years ago, it felt like I was shoving this down people’s throats. Now it feels mainstream,” said Jane Nichols, who teaches interior design at Western Carolina University. “Students don’t want their future clients to know more than they do.”
Nichols said global warming is relevant to interior design because a designer’s choice of materials has environmental implications. Bamboo floors and furnishings, for example, are more environmentally sustainable than old-growth wood, she said.
Other institutions went even further with panel discussions with politicos like Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, who joined in the activities via video satellite at the University of Nevada’s campuses in Las Vegas and Reno.
At Lewis & Clark, theoretically the birthplace of it all, student actors set about portraying a mock presidential candidate debate on climate change issues. While over at Glendale Community College in Arizona and the University of Kentucky, “low carbon” meals have been the order of the day for the week of the event. Western Carolina University hosted a recycled fashion show and at the University of California at San Diego, a student dressed as a polar bear sat in a mock electric chair to illustrate how climate change could erase the species’ habitat.
“If you go back to 1960, most Americans felt that segregation was wrong, but they were fatalistic about it,” Goodstein said. “But now, 40 years later, Barack Obama is a serious contender for the presidency. And 40 years from now, when our young people have finished the job of rewiring the planet, they will look back and say that 2008 was the year Americans woke up.”
AP via PhysOrg – Hundreds of Profs Hold Green ‘Teach-In’