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How Higher Education Is Making Climate Change Knowledge More Accessible

By Sharon Chen
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When talking about climate change, it is best to speak in a language that others understand – hard science and complex concepts may not be the best way to ease into communicating about climate action with others who may not be as familiar with the topic. Many schools are now turning to “climate fiction” as a way to make more people care about climate change, as there is evidence that learning about climate change in a fictional setting is more effective than learning about it in a lab or a classroom. The use of climate fiction as a teaching tool highlights the need to frame climate change in a way that is relevant relatable – after all, if we want people to listen and understand, how we say something is just as important as what we’re saying. 

Schools add 'cli-fi' lit to push climate change

Cheryl Chumley | WND | March 6, 2016

Schools around the country have been bringing into their fold of approved reading curriculum a new type of literature, “cli-fi,” or climate fiction, that presses the climate change agenda via popular fiction.

“It’s a very, very energized time for this where people in literature have just as much to say as people who are in hard science fields, or technology and design fields, or various social-science approaches to these things,” said Jennifer Wicke, and English professor at the University of Virginia’s who’s heading to the Bread Load campus at Middlebury College in Vermont to teach a course on climate fiction this June, Breitbart reported.

The Bread Loaf School of English provides training for students who wish to go into teaching at both elementary and high-school levels. In other words: those attending this “cli-fi” course will likely incorporate what they learn into their own course curriculum when they begin teaching.

“This course gives them a model for creating and imagining English courses that will help the young people whom they teach understand that reading literature, looking at the arts, looking at film, isn’t something you do as an aside,” said Bread Loaf school director Emily Bartels, who also serves as an English professor at Rutgers University, Breitbart said. “It’s something you do as you learn how to navigate your own moment in the 21st century.”

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