Our People, Our Climate 2020-2021: Visualizing Climate Change Through Hemispheric Dialogue

This project will create a curriculum for a synchronous online program on the visualization of climate change in Arctic, mid-latitude as well as tropical locations, namely Canada (Nunavut), Honduras, Mexico, Colombia and the United States (Duluth, MN). Local partner organizations include the West Baffin Eskimo Cooperative/Dorset Fine Arts (WBEC)(Toronto and Kinngait, Canada), and GRULAC Junior (The Latin American and Caribbean Regional Youth Group). The program will engage high-school students and young adults in learning about two interrelated components: a) climate change evidence and visualization, utilizing and contributing to the Climate Visuals framework (https://climatevisuals.org/), and b) professional photography/videography. Students will learn about existing evidence for climate change in different biomes across the globe, utilize the key principles of visualizing climate change, and practice how to use photography and documentary filmmaking to collect evidence of climate change in their communities, ultimately creating professional photography and short 3-minute documentary films.

Objectives and Expected Outcomes:

This project will create a reusable and replicable curriculum for a synchronous 8-week online course on the visualization of climate change in Arctic, mid-latitude as well as tropical locations, namely Canada (Nunavut), Honduras, Colombia and the United States (Duluth, MN). The program is planned for September/October 2021. Local partner organizations include West Baffin Eskimo Cooperative (Toronto and Kinngait, Canada) and GRULAC Junior (The Latin American and Caribbean Regional Youth Group). 

The program will engage Inuit students in Nunavut, and students at schools across Central/South America in learning about two interrelated components: a) climate change evidence and visualization (Hirji 2017, Moser 1016), utilizing and contributing to the Climate Visuals framework (https://climatevisuals.org/), and b) professional photography/videography. Students will learn about existing evidence for climate change in different biomes across the globe (Slovic 2016), utilize the key principles of visualizing climate change, and practice how to use photography and documentary filmmaking to collect evidence of climate change in their communities, ultimately creating professional photography and short 3-minute documentary films.

The photography/videography components of this class have been piloted and tested over the course of three years with Canadian youth as a part of a 2018-2021 National Science Foundation grant (Award #1758814), and the purpose of this project is to extend the original Arctic focus of climate change visualization work across hemispheres. The project lead, Dr. Olaf Kuhlke, connected with two schools in Central/South America that are the headquarters for GRULAC Junior through the existing Canadian partnership with WBEC, and the purpose of this grant is to expand, revise, translate and build a curriculum made for Arctic students to equatorial regions and the Southern hemisphere. This hemispheric dialogue was already piloted through synchronous Zoom meetings with a small group of Inuit, Honduran and Colombian students from January-March 2021, and this grant would allow for the development of a full partnership and rollout of a collaborative program, starting September 2021.

Expected Outcomes: 

a) Students from Canada and Central/South America will be learning together through weekly  synchronous online sessions and exchange their experiences with both climate change and photographic/documentary film work. 

c) The curriculum and visual results will be shared with the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in November 2021. The UMD project lead has an existing project that will be shared as part of the cultural program during UNFCCC, and this course can provide additional evidence of international youth dialogue on climate change. 

e) We expect this curriculum to be adapted across communities in the Canadian Arctic, in 2022, including the communities of Kinngait, Arviat, Clyde River, Pond Inlet, Iqaluit and Winnipeg.