• Laura Hobgood-Oster
    Laura Hobgood-Oster

Southwestern University will join more than 700 colleges, universities, faith organizations and civic groups nationwide in a Feb. 5 “teach-in” about global warming.

The teach-in will start the night of Feb. 4 with a live webcast titled “The First 100 Days.” Guest speakers will discuss global warming solutions for President Barack Obama’s first 100 days in office. The 50-minute webcast is being produced by the National Wildlife Federation and will be aired by the Earth Day Network.

The next day, Feb. 5, faculty members at participating universities are encouraged to incorporate global warming into their lectures. Because Feb. 5 is the same day as Southwestern’s Brown Symposium this year, faculty members at Southwestern will incorporate global warming into lectures throughout the week. For example, Emily Northrop, associate professor of economics and business, will discuss the economics of climate change in her Intermediate Macroeconomics class and Gilbert St. Clair, visiting professor of political science, will incorporate the topic into his Public Policy class.  

Last year, more than 25 Southwestern classes participated in the first nationwide teach-in on climate change.

“In my opinion, the reason it’s important to continue doing this event is because climate change will impact everyone and one of the ways we come to understand that is by addressing the issue from a variety of perspectives,” said Laura Hobgood-Oster, professor of religion. “Engaging topics from different angles and identifying connections is a primary goal of liberal arts education in particular. Climate change dialogue also forces us to think creatively, to bridge the academy and real-world activism, and to push our own institutions in the direction of sustainability.”

Hobgood-Oster plans to incorporate the topic into two of her religion classes. Her Christian Tradition Seminar (Heretics) will look at liberation theology and its connection to environmental and social justice. In her Theories and Methods in Religion class, students will do an exercise on how the natural world impacts the development of particular religious systems and will also do an exercise on how religions might adapt and change in a world marked by global warming.

The National Teach-In also is encouraging campuses to participate in a videoconference titled “Climate Dialogue” that will connect college students with members of Congress to discuss solutions to the problem of global warming.

Students also are being encouraged to create short “video letters” to Congress documenting the teach-in. The “letters” will be posted on YouTube with a “National Teach-In” tag. After the teach-in, Congressional offices will be contacted with the video links, and encouraged to watch the views of the students. “The video letters create a critical way to let decision makers know what is happening back in their districts,” said Teach-In Co-Directors Chungin Chung and Eban Goodstein. “We can make a huge national impact by sending hundreds of video letters about our teach-ins directly to Congress.”

Goldstein, a professor of economics at Lewis & Clark College in Oregon, started the nationwide climate change teach-in project last year. It is now a project of a nonprofit organization called Education for Global Warming Solutions. For more information on the project, visit          http://www.nationalteachin.org.