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Rising to the Challenge of Educating One Million to Solve the Climate Change Problem A UC System-wide Education Initiative

Course Title:
Bending The Curve: Climate Change Solutions

Vision Statement
V. (Ram) Ramanathan, Hahrie Han, Ellen Osmundson, Scott Friese, Lifang Chiang,
et al from the 10-Campus UC system

July 14, 2016

Preamble: The fundamental vision behind the University of California's (UC) "Bending the Curve" effort is to build on the Carbon Neutrality initiative of the UC system, as well as the climate change mitigation policies and actions of the state of California as living laboratories to identify scalable relevant solutions nationally and globally. The UC-Fifty published 10 scalable solutions, derived largely from research and good practices within UC and the state of California in a report consisting of an executive summary and 9 chapters. This report in its entirety is undergoing review process and will be published as a special volume in UC's online publication Collabra. To extend this vision to the youth who must emerge as critical actors in the initiative, we propose the creation of a hybrid course on climate change, first for the benefit of UC undergraduates and then, in subsequent phases, for the benefit of students, youths and citizens throughout California and the rest of the world.

Why One Million? Within the next 15 to 25 years, we will (with 50% probability) witness 1.5oC warming, and within 25-35 years, witness the unmanageable 2oC warming, creating planetary conditions unlike any experienced in the last one million years. All of this can happen within one generation. Beyond 2100, if we continue along business as usual, we see the specter of a hot planet witnessed only by dinosaurs 65 million years ago. We still have the time to prevent such a massive disruption of society. We need drastic actions from the top-down, and, more importantly, from the bottom-up. Youth must lead this charge. This course aspires to equip the bottom-up movement by empowering our youth with the capacities and knowledge (technical, scientific, and social scientific) to act. In addition to building their agency for action, and their ability for critical thinking, we should offer them possible solutions for stabilizing the climate so that they have a hopeful heart and the motivation they need to roll up their sleeves and work for the common good and solve the climate disruption problem created by our (the teachers') generation. Is this not the duty of a great public university like UC to rise to the challenge?

Taking Bending the Curve Forward: Solutions #2 and #3 presented in the Bending the Curve report deal with communication to enable bottom-up actions at the local and city level with the expectation that local actions can mushroom around the globe. Towards this goal, UC faculty members are initiating an ambitious education program from the bottom-up, which will scale the well-established (among experts) knowledge that the climate change problem is solvable and spread the word that there are institutions and cities that are developing solutions and teach the details of these solution to a generation of citizens interested in solving the problem. What this multi-campus course would accomplish is to create an army of climate warriors (youth; business leaders; NGOs and city to national government employees) equipped with a critical eye and hopeful heart (quote from Marshall Ganz, long-time organizer and Harvard sociologist)

Piloting the Vision: To test this concept, a graduate-level pilot course was taught on- ground at UCSD during Spring 2016, with featured lecturers from 6 UC campuses, UC Office of the President, the Governor's office and the California Air Resources Board (CARB). Each lecturer submitted lecture slides a few days before their lecture, the students reviewed it before the class meeting and submit questions prior to the discussion. The students were graded by having them map out solutions of various climate action plans from cities around the world and analyze how it maps to the UC-Fifty's 10 solutions, and identify what was missed in Bending the Curve.

Proposed Initiative: We envision four separate courses that target three different groups:
  1. I. Course #1 is aimed at University students across USA and other parts of the world, and consists of the following six steps:
    1. 2017 - Spring: Teach (with needed modifications) the Bending the Curve report as a multi-campus undergraduate hybrid course targeting sophomores to juniors enrolled in the nine undergraduate campuses during the Spring of 2017. We are envisioning a course taught in all nine campuses with one faculty coordinator responsible in each campus, but with lecturers from all 10 campuses providing the lectures. For this first year, the coordinators will be those contributing to the video lectures. The envisioned structure is: Interactive lectures are created and hosted on the Canvas learning management system (LMS), which students are expected to have watched and understood before stepping into the class; class time would be devoted to Q &A and exploration of ideas and solutions described in the lectures. Host-campus faculty coordinators will be guided by the PIs and the course design team to ensure a consistent learning experience for students on all campuses.
    2. 2017 Spring to end of 2017: Revise the video lectures based on the lessons learned during Year 1. Develop teaching guides from the lectures aimed at faculty- coordinators at UC and non-UC campuses interested in teaching the course in their campus. We envision this to be a book published by UC Press by mid- 2018.
    3. 2018 - Spring: Launch this course at approximately 3 non-UC campuses within California (North, Central and South) as a pilot for the scalability of the course to rest of the US. The coordinators in these 3 non-UC campuses will be given a copy of the teaching modules (later to become a book); they will be requested to give detailed feedbacks on improving the lecture notes. The teaching modules and notes will be transformed into the book: Bending the Curve/ Scalable Solutions for a Sustainable Planet.
    4. 2019 - Spring: teaching guide, published as a book by UCOP-Press.
    5. 2019 - Fall: Partner with selected campuses in US, China, India, Mexico and EU to launch the course to different nations as a pilot for testing the scalability of the course globally..
  2. II. Course #2 is envisioned as a Hybrid-MOOC. It is a MOOC in the sense that every student will learn from the same set of videos and same book but the students will have interactions with an in-person coordinator at each campus. The starting point for the MOOC is the course material used in Step 5 above.
  3. III. Course #3 (targeted for release in 2018), aimed at corporations (technical as well as management), will be a shorter course based on the MOOC for corporations, executives and companies who are interested in pathways leading to carbon neutrality and climate stability.
  4. IV. Course #4 (targeted for release in 2018) is aimed at UN agencies (WHO; UNESCO; etc.); NGO's and personnel in state and national governments that are interested and want to know how to solve this issue. This could become a certificate program for those interested.
A steering committee (Attached) has been formed to plan and implement this ambitious initiative.