Students Help Characterize & Address Local Climate Change Challenges

December 13, 2017 / By: SCP

While climate change is a global issue, efforts to address climate change occur from the global to the local level.  Many local communities are trying to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and prepare for the future impacts of climate change.  There are, however, few opportunities for neighboring communities to come together to reflect on the common challenges they face when addressing climate change.  This is where the Metropolitan Council’s Climate Workshops and the Fall 2017 ENGL 315 Sustainable Communities Partnership project come in. 

The Metropolitan Council’s Climate Workshops are an opportunity for officials and stakeholders from local communities across the Twin Cities area to learn about addressing climate change in their resilience planning, discuss challenges they face in addressing climate change, and brainstorm possible solutions to these challenges.  Students in English 315 attended a Metropolitan Council Climate Workshop, recorded and analyzed conversations between attendees, and created a report that summarized the challenges faced by local communities and possible solutions to them. 

“We provided a way for communities who are struggling, either to get sustainability initiatives started or to keep them running smoothly, to have something to turn to. I like to think of the document we wrote as a sort of “FAQ” booklet,” shared Megan Hay (’19) in describing their report.

ENGL315 Students at Metropolitan Council Climate Change Workshop

The final project report, accessible here, was provided to the Metropolitan Council to increase their understanding of the issues raised at the workshop and to benefit local community climate change efforts.

Eric Wojchik, Senior Planner with the Metropolitan Council and SCP project partner, was encouraged by the outcomes of the project, “We can use the students’ work to share the content of the conversations not only with the workshop participants, but with other communities who are just starting to consider performing resilience planning work.”

But the impacts on students from participating in the project extended beyond creating the report.  For many students, the project provided insights into the importance of, and challenges facing, local governments pursuing sustainability. 

“I learned a ton about the frustrations and the day-to-day work that goes on at a city level when trying to create a comprehensive plan that incorporates sustainable initiatives. It was eye opening on many levels. It was my first interaction with people in the climate change space that was not activist-y or nonprofit based. This helped me to understand the importance of having structures within cities that are strong and willing to address sustainability,” explained Hannah Rosentreter (’18).

Finally, for other students, the project provided a glimpse into the real-world efforts to address the causes and impacts of climate change, as Cassie Froese (’19) highlighted,

“What made an impression on me was being surrounded by people who were so deeply invested in these problems and who were working hard to find the means to solve them. It was inspiring to hear them speak passionately about how they wanted to create positive change in their communities.”