Climate Change Education in the Southeastern U.S. Through Public Dialogue: Not Just Preaching to the Choir

TitleClimate Change Education in the Southeastern U.S. Through Public Dialogue: Not Just Preaching to the Choir
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2014
AuthorsMcNeal, K, Hammerman, J, Christiansen, J, F. Carroll, J
JournalJournal of Geoscience Education
Pagination631 - 644
Date Published2014/11//
ISBN Number10899995
Keywords*Original 959, 1RRP, 2AWB, CLIMATIC changes -- Study & teaching, Climatology -- Study & teaching, Conservatism -- United States, Education & economics, EDUCATION & politics, Exploratory factor analysis, Include, Include RRP, R1 FINAL INCLUDE, Round 2 Include RRP, Round 2 Review 2 RRP, Round1 Include, Round2 Include WAC, Round2 Review2 WAC
AbstractClimate change education in the southeastern United States can be challenging. Due to economic factors, as well as the conservative political and faith perspectives typical of the region, high proportions (40%) of the population are not engaged, not convinced, or doubt Earth's climate is changing or that climate change has anthropogenic causes. Finding ways to bring such people into the climate change conversation is a crucial first step. This paper describes a public dialogue approach that brings together scientists with heterogeneous groups of faith, leisure/outdoor, educator, and agriculture communities to promote perspective sharing in an open and safe environment. It also describes the research we conducted on participants' experiences. Participants' postdialogue responses showed that they rated their learning about policies that might address climate change more strongly than their learning about climate science or the impacts of climate change. Exploratory factor analysis (EFA) of postdialogue evaluations found that three factors explained 63% of the variability in the data and represented substantively distinct components of participants' experiences: (1) feeling respected, (2) learning about climate science and policy content, and (3) learning about faith-based and other new and different perspectives about the issue. Qualitative findings supported quantitative results, suggesting that respondents felt comfortable speaking freely about their views on climate change, politics, and religion and that they valued engaging with diverse groups to have an open discussion about climate change. The dialogue approach has potential to depolarize climate change discourse through relationship building so that diverse communities can engage in productive and civil conversations expressing multiple perspectives.
Short TitleJournal of Geoscience Education