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Great Lakes MOOC discusses climate change through library partnerships

February 19, 2015

“Changing Weather and Climate in the Great Lakes Region” is a Massive Open Online Course beginning Feb. 23 that will teach learners all about climate change. And not only that — it will give them a chance to do something about it.

MOOCs are free online, noncredit learning experiences that allow people from around the globe to participate. Participants can sign up at any time once the MOOC has started to watch educational videos, engage in discussion forums, read articles and often take quizzes or complete educational activities.

Along with exploring rising temperatures and their effect on Great Lakes communities, the course features meetings at 21 public libraries throughout Wisconsin starting Feb. 21 in conjunction with WiLS, a nonprofit membership organization that facilitates collaborative projects to advance library service, primarily in Wisconsin. The meetings will allow local residents to discuss issues of changing weather and climate in the context of their own communities.

“WiLS is excited to help facilitate this project, which will explore the role of public libraries in distance education and the impact that their role may have on participation and learning,” says Director Stefanie Morrill. “The libraries are so looking forward to hosting discussions on this important topic and are appreciative of having the expertise of UW–Madison brought to their libraries.”

Anyone can enroll here for the four-week course. Participants will learn about Great Lakes weather and the social effects of climate change. Registration for the MOOC is open now and will remain open as the course is ongoing.

“Changing Weather and Climate in the Great Lakes Region” is taught by Steve Ackerman, a UW Professor of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences and director of the Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies (CIMSS), and Margaret Mooney, CIMSS’s director of education and public outreach. They’ll incorporate findings from the recent National Climate Assessment and the Wisconsin Initiative on Climate Change Impacts.

A kickoff event begins at 2 p.m. Feb. 21 at the Milwaukee Public Library and features environmental groups and a talk by Jeffrey S. Russell, dean of UW–Madison’s Division of Continuing Studies. Attendees can learn about MOOCs and enroll in “Changing Weather and Climate in the Great Lakes Region.”

The discussions at Wisconsin libraries run throughout late February and March, and are free and open to the public. By providing information about climate change and providing ideas for action, the MOOC will give residents in Wisconsin the opportunity to have a better understanding of the topic and how they can personally bring about change.

“Changing Weather and Climate in the Great Lakes Region” is the second of six MOOCs UW–Madison is offering in 2015-16. 

—Lika Balenovich and Dean Robbins