"Story Map" for climate change

"Story Map" for climate change

Gathering climate change info from many sources

Students in Liz Hadly's "Geographic Impacts of Global Change" course spent last spring collecting stories about environmental change. An intrepid group of 5 students each collected data for a region of the California from multiple sources ranging from academic journals to popular media to one-on-one interviews to create an interactive story map, merging scientific and human dimensions of climate change.

One of the first activities for the class had students heading off campus to the nearby California Avenue Farmers Market to begin to learn what language local farmers use to talk about climate disruption, invasive species, biodiversity loss, pollution, and population change.

Later, students also used articles from web archives and phone interviews with individuals across California to compile the map. To prepare for the interviews, the students role played in class to feel more comfortable interacting with people outside of academia. Students learned how to view an issue through the lens of a farmer, park ranger, immigrant farm worker, etc. Even Professor Hadly joined in as Ranger Liz from Redwood National Forest.

Presenting information: story maps and stakeholders

In class, students also used mindmaps for brainstorming, developed presentations on data collection, and attended tutorials in arcGIS provided by the Stanford GeoSpatial Center at Branner Library. Some students enrolled for a third unit, allowing them to emphasize community engagement and appropriate techniques for approaching and interviewing people affected by environmental change. For this portion of the class, they were joined by the Community Engaged Learning team at the Center for Teaching and Learning and the Haas Center for Public Service to ensure that they would be comfortable and effective in working with stakeholders to produce content for the map.

Students appreciated both the impact and uniqueness of the class. Earth Systems and History double Major Jason Kaufman, ‘14 says, "There was great satisfaction knowing that the work I was doing for this class directly supported a larger project whose impacts would last well beyond the quarter ends and reach all corners of California. It was really unlike any other class I have taken at Stanford."

Read the Stanford News story about the project.

Sarah Truebe, who supported the Story Map project, is a Director of Community Engaged Learning with the Center for Teaching and Learning at Stanford.