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Award Abstract #1239783

CCEP-II: Polar Learning and Responding: PoLAR Climate Change Education Partnership

Division Of Undergraduate Education
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Initial Amendment Date: August 15, 2012
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Latest Amendment Date: June 29, 2015
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Award Number: 1239783
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Award Instrument: Cooperative Agreement
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Program Manager: David B. Campbell
DUE Division Of Undergraduate Education
EHR Direct For Education and Human Resources
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Start Date: September 15, 2012
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End Date: August 31, 2017 (Estimated)
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Awarded Amount to Date: $5,655,000.00
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Investigator(s): Stephanie Pfirman spfirman@barnard.edu (Principal Investigator)
Elena Sparrow (Co-Principal Investigator)
Robert Steiner (Co-Principal Investigator)
Joey Lee (Co-Principal Investigator)
Peter Schlosser (Co-Principal Investigator)
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Sponsor: Columbia University
2960 Broadway
NEW YORK, NY 10027-6902 (212)854-6851
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Antarctic Education,
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Program Reference Code(s): 6891, SMET
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Program Element Code(s): 1697, 5208, 5294, 6891


The Polar Learning And Responding (PoLAR) Climate Change Partnership is using fascination with the changing polar regions and novel educational approaches to engage adult learners and inform public understanding and response to climate change. Learning research and activities implemented during the Phase I demonstration project show that games and game-like approaches motivate exploration and learning of complex material. Focus has been placed on the poles because climate change is rapid in these regions and has global consequences. Images of the changing Arctic and Antarctic have become emblematic of environmental change for the public at large.

PoLAR partners include expertise in: 1) Climate Science, both in Natural Science and Social Science; 2) Learning and Decision Science, including Learning Theory and Practice and Decision Science; and 3) Practitioners in Formal education, Informal education, and Gaming. The intellectual merit of the PoLAR Partnership is the combination of learning, decision, and climate science applied to educational approaches for adult learners. Adults, be they community leaders, the general public, pre- and in-service teachers, or college students, are today's decision-makers. Informed decisions are more likely if individuals are aware of the scientific evidence of climate change and potential economic and social consequences. Research is being conducted in this Phase II project to evaluate the impact of different platforms and tools in raising awareness and improving understanding. The project seeks to: 1) Deepen adult learner awareness and understanding of climate change; 2) Inform responses to climate change impacts through engaged problem-solving; and 3) Advance knowledge on more effective modes of climate change education and outreach.

This project will transform education policies and practices by catalyzing new ways of learning about climate change at the poles based on scientific evidence, learning theory, and education practice, including current and emerging technology. Activities to achieve this goal include: 1) Providing transformative educational approaches that are easy to disseminate and exciting to use in homes, museums, classrooms, and communities; and 2) Inspiring change in practices and policies by seeding game-like approaches in informal and formal educational environments in collaboration with catalytic associates.

This Phase II CCEP project is serving as a hub of communication and dissemination of information on polar climate change through the Polar Home website, which leverages existing resources, including the Climate Change Education Program Alliance (CCEPA). Diverse communities are being engaged through professional development of and public outreach to key stakeholder communities: AMNH teachers, Alaskan leaders through culturally responsive camps, and radio dispatches in multiple languages. The project has the potential to reach millions of adults through partners and associates including the Alaskan Association of Interior Native Educators, Games for Change, Isla Earth, Arctic Portal, AMNH, Association of Arctic Expedition Cruise Operators, American Geophysical Union and WWF Global Arctic Programme.

This project is one of six Phase II projects being funded through the Climate Change Education Partnership (CCEP) program. The CCEP program was developed as part of the NSF Climate Change Education program, established through Congressional appropriations in FY 2009. The CCEP program is a one-time, dedicated NSF effort 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. The CCEP portfolio encompasses a major interdisciplinary research and development effort designed to promote deeper understanding of, and engagement with, climate system science and the impacts of climate change on natural and human systems. The vision of this program is a scientifically literate society that can effectively weigh the evidence regarding global climate change as it confronts the challenges ahead, while preparing the innovative scientific and technical workforce to advance our knowledge of human-climate interactions and develop approaches for a sustainable, prosperous future. Each CCEP is required to incorporate innovative collaborations among expertise of climate scientists, learning scientists, and education practitioners in either formal or informal learning environments to research, design, and test new models and strategies for effective teaching and learning about climate science. With its focus on interdisciplinary approaches and transformative scales of impact, the CCEP program occupies a unique and complementary niche in the portfolio of Federal investments related to climate science education and workforce development.


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Joey J. Lee, Pinar Ceyhan, William Jordan-Cooley, Woonhee Sung. "GREENIFY: A Real-World Action Game for Climate Change Education," Simulation & Gaming, 2013. 

Lawrence C. Hamilton, Mary Lemcke-Stampone. "Arctic Warming and Your Weather: Public Belief in the Connection," International Journal of Climatology, 2013. 

Jason Wu and Joey Lee. "Climate Change Games as Tools for Education and Engagement," Nature Climate Change, v.5, 2015, p. 413. 

Lawrence C. Hamilton. "Polar Facts in the Age of Polarization," Polar Geography, 2015. 

Lawrence Hamilton. "What People Know," Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences, v.5, 2015, p. 54. 

Lawrence Hamilton and Kei Saito. "A Four Party View of US Environmental Concern," Environmental Politics, v.24, 2014, p. 212. 

Satyugjit Singh Virk, Margaret Turrin, and Lenin Compres. "Exploring the Efficacy and Engagement of a Glacial Melting Simulation," The Earth Scientist, v.XXX, 2014, p. 38. 


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