Partnership for Education on Climate Change, Engineered Systems, and Society

Program Areas – Sustainability, Complex Socio-technical Systems, Education and Engagement

Project Period:

September 2010 – August 2013

Principal Investigator:

  • Rachelle Hollander, National Academy of Engineering

Co-Principal Investigators:

  • Clark Miller, CSPO
  • Deborah Johnson, University of Virginia
  • Juan Lucena, Colorado School of Mines
  • Paul Fontaine, Museum of Science-Boston


This project is funded by the National Science Foundation. It is led by the US National Academy of Engineering, and establishes a Phase I Climate Change Education Partnership (CCEP) in collaboration with Arizona State University, Museum of Science-Boston, University of Virginia, Colorado School of Mines, and the Phoenix Union High School District. The overall goal of CCEP Phase I is to establish a coordinated national network of regionally- or thematically-based partnerships devoted to increasing the adoption of effective, high quality educational programs and resources related to the science of climate change and its impacts. This award focuses on the impacts of climate change for engineered systems. The goal is to catalyze and transform engineering education in K-12, science museums, and undergraduate engineering departments to prepare current and future engineers, policymakers, and the public to meet these challenges.

In coming decades, climate change and society’s responses to it will require enormous transformation of the nation’s technological infrastructure. Current education in the United States falls short of preparing the country for this challenge. Educational platforms must focus on the multiple, complex interactions between engineered systems and the Earth’s climate system. At the same time, transformation raises societal challenges, including trade-offs among benefits, costs, and risks, and opportunities for building public trust, confidence, and engagement. New education must integrate technical and normative learning, knowledge, and skills, in formal and informal educational venues.

This partnership will develop a comprehensive vision focused on three themes: (1) climate impacts on engineered systems and their adaptation; (2) changes in engineered systems required to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions; and (3) the creation of novel technological systems to engineer the Earth’s climate system. Cutting across themes, it will examine challenges of: (1) governance; (2) justice; (3) sustainability; and (4) public engagement and trust. It will reach out to engineering professional societies, educators and deans, K-12, informal science institutions, industry, non-governmental organizations, media, and policymakers. Working with the Phoenix Union High School District, whose 25,000 students are 78% Hispanic, 10% African American, and 3.2% Native American, allows the Partnership to devise appealing programs for students of diverse backgrounds.

Phase I involves working groups organized by theme and target audience. One or more content working groups will focus on developing an inventory of climate education materials integrating technical and normative education. By the end of Phase I, the Partnership will have marshaled a broad network of stakeholders from the target audiences and submitted a proposal to NSF for Phase II. It will have published and disseminated material from the three thematic meetings, as well as results from the project working groups, so content and approaches needed to initiate new formal and informal educational efforts are widely available.

Conference on Climate Change and America’s Infrastructure: Engineering, Social and Policy Challenges

January 28-30, 2013
Tempe AZ

Additional Team Members