CLN > Climate Change Education Projects > AAAS Conference on Promoting Climate Literacy Through Informal Science

AAAS Conference on Promoting Climate Literacy Through Informal Science

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Principal Investigators: Jo Ellen Roseman (lead), Mary Koppal, AAAS Project 2061
Project Website:
National Science Foundation
Grant # DRL-6357931

Project Description

Supported with a grant from the National Science Foundation, AAAS's Project 2061 and Education and Human Resources Directorate, in collaboration with the Birch Aquarium at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, brought together more than 150 educators from across the informal science education community to learn more about climate change science and climate literacy, to consider new data on public knowledge and attitudes, to share strategies for communicating on this important issue, and to explore synergies across a wide range of informal science experiences and settings. The invitational conference took place in San Diego on February 17-18. Noted historian of science Naomi Oreskes and renowned climate scientists Richard Somerville and Ken Caldeira were among the featured speakers. Participants came from all regions of the country and represented different types and sizes of science centers and museums, zoos and aquariums, media projects, and community programs.

Day One of the conference was hosted by the Birch Aquarium at the Scripps Seaside Forum overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Beginning with updates on and examples of the evidence for human-induced climate change, the day included discussions of the latest data from the Pew Research Center, Public Agenda, and the Yale Climate Change Project on the knowledge, values, beliefs, and concerns that shape the public's understanding of climate change and their attitudes toward it. With those public perceptions of the issue in mind, a panel of experts in framing science through print, exhibits, film, online, and other media provided new perspectives for engaging public audiences in the issue.

Day Two took place at the San Diego Convention Center and focused on defining climate literacy and what it might look like – whether in terms of conceptual knowledge, attitudes, behaviors, or other kinds of possible outcomes – and then considered what those goals entail in terms of learning in informal environments. Panelists from both formal and informal science education and from science centers, aquariums, and zoos led discussions of the opportunities and challenges for public engagement and understanding. Against the backdrop of the 2010 San Diego Science Festival, panelists with experience in public outreach ended the day by emphasizing the need to work more deeply and broadly within a diverse range of communities to increase the overall level of science literacy and to foster public engagement and participation in climate science among all members of society.

Both days of the conference offered participants time to reflect on what they were learning and to begin to build new collaborations across disciplines, institutions and programs, and media and settings. Presentations and other background materials are available on the conference Web site at

Contact Information:
Principal Investigator: Jo Ellen Roseman, AAAS Project 2061, 202 326 6752,
Co-Principal Investigator: Mary Koppal, AAAS Project 2061, 202 326 6643,