Two employees from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock have recently become two of only five people in the state of Arkansas to complete the Climate Reality Leadership Corps, a nonprofit organization founded in 2006 by Nobel Laureate and former Vice President Al Gore.
The Climate Reality Leadership Corps provides training in climate science and communications to better tell the story of climate change. The training is provided by theClimate Reality Project.
Dr. Jessica Scott, assistant director of the Donaghey Scholars honors program and instructor in the Anthropology Department, and Dr. Rene Shroat-Lewis, assistant professor in the Department of Earth Sciences, attended the training with 1,300 other participants Oct. 17-19 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
“Being in this group of 1,300 people who were all dedicated to the same thing was powerful,” Shroat-Lewis said. “There are a lot of people working to solve climate change. There is strength in knowing that this many people all came together.”
Over the summer, Scott and Shroat-Lewis were looking for inspiration for the class they will be teaching in the spring semester, Science and Society II, to a group of 25 Donaghey Scholars. The course is inspired by the paper “Tragedy of the Commons,” by noted ecologist Garrett Hardin. Environmentalism and sustainability are a recurring theme throughout the course.
When Scott and Shroat-Lewis went to the movies this summer, they thought the Climate Reality Leadership Corps shown in the film, “An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power,” would provide great educational materials for their upcoming class.
“One of the things we love about our course is that it is not strictly academic,” Scott said. “There is public policy and political advocacy as well. Students work in small teams to write environmental grant proposals. The Environmental Protection Agency has a fund for undergraduate students for sustainability projects on campus. We encourage our students to submit those proposals.”
Scott and Shroat-Lewis are available to give public presentations on climate change and plan to work with the additional three Arkansans who have taken the training.
“We saw this as an opportunity to get our involvement in this issue outside the academic realm and to engage with the wider community,” Scott said. “We want to help bring this issue to a statewide level. We are the Natural State, after all, so we should be on the forefront of this issue.”