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Duke offers new University Course about climate change for fall 2022

Looking for a class to add to your fall schedule? The University is offering an interdisciplinary course on climate change titled “Let’s Talk About Climate Change.” The course aims to equip students to analyze and discuss how climate change is affecting our world. 

A University Course with catalog code UNIV102, meaning it is not offered by a particular department, the one-credit course aims to promote interdisciplinary discourse by bringing in scholars to teach students about climate change from a variety of perspectives. 

Duke previously debuted a new University Course titled “The Invention and Consequences of Race” in 2021. 

Unlike its precursor, half of UNIV102’s spots are reserved for first-year students, and it can be taken on a graded basis. It carries ethical inquiry (EI), science, technology and society (STS) and natural sciences (NS) curriculum codes. The course will be offered on Mondays from 5:00 to 7:30 p.m. in the Goodson Chapel of the Duke Divinity School with catered dinner from Zwelli’s Cafe. 

UNIV102 was spearheaded by Emily Bernhardt, James B. Duke distinguished professor of biology, and Norman Wirzba, Gilbert T. Rowe distinguished professor of Christian theology. The two gathered twelve other Duke faculty from public policy to geology to teach this class. 

Bernhardt aspires to make this class “a transformative experience” for the students. 

“By acting as role models and mentors to students and engaging other faculty in innovative research and teaching collaborations, [the course’s instructors] will help us mobilize and marshal a powerful community of thinkers and innovators whose positive influence will extend far beyond our campus borders,” she said.

In the beginning of the course, students will be given a brief history of how Earth's climate changed since the Industrial Revolution and learn about what to expect in the next century from the instructors. 

Each faculty instructor will then take turns leading hour-long discussions, dissecting climate change from different perspectives. Students will then have their dinner with faculty and continue their conversations in respective breakout groups.

Faculty members hope to touch on a variety of topics related to climate change. Priscilla Wald, R. Florence Brinkley distinguished professor of English, plans to educate students on how to use stories to help the public understand climate change. Steven Sexton, Mark and Lynne Florian Assistant Professor of public policy, plans to emphasize aspects of climate change economics.

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