The University of California Museum of Paleontology and the National Center for Science Education are undertaking a new project that ultimately will enhance 21st Century science literacy in the context of the causes and consequences of global change.
Although scientists are in agreement that significant changes (including climate change) are occurring on a global level, the public remains confused and often views statements of change with ill-founded skepticism and in some instances denial about the causes and implications of these changes. K-16 teachers and the general public need a source of information that is accessible and scientifically valid, that describes and explains the nature and impact of global change, and that describes the processes by which scientists arrive at their consensus opinions. Teachers need a “one-stop shop” for global change resources, much as they have a site for evolution education resources in Understanding Evolution, and for resources for the teaching of the nature of science in Understanding Science. The web resource that we propose, Understanding Global Change, will meet these needs.
We have chosen to focus on a resource for K-16 educators given that an individual’s basic science literacy and critical thinking begin to grow during formal and informal K-12 education and mature in higher education. To this end, the immediate goals of the project are to develop a freely accessible and engaging web-based resource that (1) provides K-16 science educators with an improved understanding of the processes, causes and rates of global change through time and their resulting biotic impacts, (2) provides clarity on the strengths and limitations of scientific arguments about global change, i.e., how we know what we know and what we currently do not know, and (3) provides resources and strategies that encourage and enable K-16 teachers to incorporate the impact of global change into their teaching. In turn, this will afford the opportunity for their students, and ultimately the general public, to better understand the science behind global change impacts, its relevance to society, the role of human agency in both cause and solution, and how science arrives at its current thinking.
We look forward to working with NCSE and an energetic Advisory Board to develop this much-needed resource and are grateful to the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation for providing funding for the endeavor.