Initial Publication Date: March 30, 2022

CLEAN Teleconference Call October 30th, 2018

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Provenance: Noun Project
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Provenance: Daniela Pennycook, University of Colorado at Boulder
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National Network for Ocean and Climate Change Interpretation Case Study

Abstract: Studies have shown that nearly two-thirds of Americans talk about climate change only occasionally or not at all, resulting in a lack of community action to address one of the most important issues of our time. The National Network for Ocean and Climate Change Interpretation (NNOCCI) has demonstrated that by activating the resources of widely trusted institutions such as aquariums, zoos, museums, and other informal science education (ISE) institutions, we can break through obstacles such as the perceived complexity of science and political polarization to create a space in which productive, fact-based climate change conversations can be had and barriers to community climate action can be overcome. We now have abundant evidence that these conversations inspire ISE institution visitors to drive community-level strategies in addressing climate change. Through NNOCCI's success, we have integrated the power of climate communication within the New England Aquarium visitor experience and have built on our knowledge to extend our strategy into Boston-area communities, particularly to coastal communities that are especially vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. By building on solid empirical research to understand what people already value, believe, and understand, networks of ISE institutions have designed communication strategies that helped translate complex science in a way that allows people to examine evidence, make well-informed inferences, and embrace science-based solutions. The impact to date has been extensive and many more institutions support their community's climate actions in the Boston area and across the United States.

Bio: William Spitzer, Ph.D. Vice President for Programs, Exhibits and Planning New England Aquarium Boston, MA

William Spitzer, Ph.D., is Vice President for Programs, Exhibits and Planning at the New England Aquarium. He is responsible for oversight of exhibit design, visitor experience, volunteer, and education programs as well as institutional strategic planning. He has served as Principal Investigator for numerous informal science education projects funded by the National Science Foundation, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Institute for Museum and Library Services, and the Environmental Protection Agency. Spitzer has more than 25 years experience developing and implementing science education programs and materials. In 2014, he was recognized by the White House as a Champion of Change for Engaging the Next Generation of Conservation Leaders. In 2016, Spitzer received a Visionary Award from the Gulf of Maine Council for innovation, creativity, and commitment to marine protection.

The New England Aquarium is a catalyst for global change through public engagement, commitment to marine animal conservation, leadership in education, innovative scientific research, and effective advocacy for vital and vibrant oceans. We work to develop the next generation of ocean stewards through a variety of programs that combine learning, service, and stewardship while focusing on key issues such as climate change and habitat protection. These efforts include immersive experiential learning and citizen science opportunities for youth; workplace learning and career development for teens; volunteer service and stewardship programs for adults; and interpretation and communication training for staff. All involve a range of collaborations and capacity building initiatives with other organizations in Boston, New England, and across the United States.

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CLEAN CollectionTeaching about Climate and Energy