College of Liberal Arts

University of Mississippi

UM Part of Collaboration to Advance Climate Science Literacy

The Department of Public Policy Leadership and the Mississippi Geographic Alliance, both at the University of Mississippi, are collaborating with Mississippi State University and the University of Alabama-Huntsville to create an innovative new science education program.

The universities are using a $1 million grant from the National Science Foundation’s Climate Change Education Partnership to develop the Climate Literacy Partnership in the Southeast United States, or CLiPSE.

The overall goal of CLiPSE is to educate students, teachers and the public about global climate change and its impacts, said David Rutherford, UM assistant professor of public policy leadership.

“This two-year, Phase I project will develop the foundation of the partnership that will work across the Mid-South to increase and improve climate change education for children and adults through formal and informal environments, including schools, universities, museums, nature centers, community environments and churches,” Rutherford said.

Each institution has a key role during the first phase. Rutherford, co-principal investigator for CLiPSE, will oversee the Networked Partnership Team, while UAH leads the Climate Science Team and MSU handles the Learning Sciences Team.

Rutherford, who also is executive director of the MGA, said he plans to work with the National Geographic Society and its nationwide network of Geography Alliances to help build the CLiPSE partnership. The nationwide network has chapters in Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana , Mississippi, South Carolina and Tennessee that will participate in CLiPSE.

The MGA network provides an ideal way to coordinate the work of these alliances to spread CLiPSE across the Southeast, he said.

“There are two main deliverables for Phase I: to establish a strong network of individuals and organizations mobilized to increase and improve climate change literacy, and to develop a strategic five-year plan,” he said.

The first draft of the strategic plan is more than 75 percent complete, Rutherford said.

“We have been working hard since December to make sure the CLiPSE program will be highly competitive to receive a Phase II grant in 2012 that will allow us to implement the plan and expand the project across the entire Southeast region” he said.

Ole Miss, MSU and UAH were among 15 partnerships, chosen from 160 across the United States, to receive an NSF grant to increase public understanding of global climate change as well as prepare the next generation of scientists and educators.

Climate science is complex and interdisciplinary, and “therefore not an easy subject to teach,” said Dave Campbell, an NSF program director.

“Eventually, the material developed through this program will help both classroom teachers and educators address questions about climate change from a solid scientific basis,” Campbell said.

Individuals and organizations interested in the CLiPSE partnership should email David Rutherford at druther@olemiss.edu or visit http://www.clipse-project.org/ for more information.