Living With Climate Change

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Fall 2018
Winter 2019
Spring 2019
Evening and Weekend
Credits per quarter

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Taught by


Climate change is happening. The lack of action by our public and private sector leaders has created a reality where impending catastrophic effects of climate change now seem unavoidable. What are the consequences of that reality, across global regions and here in the Pacific Northwest? What can we expect to happen as our planet's basic physical and biological systems encounter greater stress and volatility?  In this full-year interdisciplinary program, we pose the question: how can we learn to live with climate change? 

In fall we will define climate carefully, examine the related major Earth systems, and review the geologic evidence for massive climate changes in Earth’s history. We will review the overwhelming evidence that our climate is undergoing rapid, powerful changes. Finally, we will consider the scientific evidence, past and present, that human activity profoundly affects the atmosphere and the biosphere that depends upon it, and consider various scenarios for the future based upon that evidence. Students will complete a research paper in which they pose a specific question about climate change and use peer reviewed academic sources to help find answers. 

Winter quarter will focus on local institutions and climate change action plans from a political ecology perspective.  We will consider the range of institutions that already exist — from local farms, to activist groups and nonprofits, to state and local governments — and ponder the question of what new institutions might be useful to weather the changes to come. Who are the stakeholders now, and how might they change over the next two or three decades? How can our communities plan for, among other things, a wave of climate-driven migration, the disruption of national and international food systems, and changes to our watershed ecologies?  In addition to guest speakers and readings on these questions, the class will learn fundamentals of social science research methods and collaboratively develop a research project on local food producers to be carried out in the spring. 

Spring will lead us toward the study of agriculture and the adaptation of our food production systems. As extreme weather events and climate change threaten those systems, community members may need to produce food, either on their own land or in shared community gardens. Working with the Evergreen Organic Farm and/or other nonprofit farms and gardens, we will learn the fundamentals of plant physiology and biology, gaining practical, hands-on know-how about growing food, taking into consideration projected changes in seasonal weather patterns over the next three decades and beyond. Students will build on winter quarter studies in social science research methods and complete a project on local farmers’ plans for climate change adaptation, which may result in co-authorship of a published journal article.  

Students completing the full program will be prepared to act as community leaders in the area of climate change preparation and adaptation, including a potential mentoring role in future iterations of this program.

This offering will prepare you for careers and advanced study in: climate change research and adaptation, social sciences, political ecology, climate change policy

Online learning:
  • Enhanced Online Learning - This offering requires access to web-based tools, but use of these tools does not displace any face-to-face instruction.
Research Opportunities:

Spring 2019:  social science research project involving surveys and semi-structured interviews with local farmers, regarding their plans for climate change adaptation.  Students may become co-authors of a published article or conference presentation.

Scheduled for: Evening and Weekend

Located in: Olympia

Advertised schedule:

Fall and Winter quarters: Mon/Wed 6-9:30pm.

Spring quarter: Wed 6-9:30pm + Alternating Saturdays starting with Week 1. 

May be offered again in:


2018-03-05Offering is now 8 credits (was 12 credits)