The University of Iowa

2009 University of Iowa International Programs Summer Institute for Teachers

July 31st, 2009

The International Programs Summer Institute for Teachers is an annual week-long professional development workshop in collaboration with the UI College of Education and UI Center for Credit Programs in the Division of Continuing Education for K-12 teachers focusing on “what Iowans need to know about the rest of the world.” It allows current teachers and pre-service teachers a chance to explore contemporary global issues. This summer the University of Iowa Center for Human Rights collaborated on the Institute which was open to 25 middle school, junior high and high school teachers.

“The relationship between environmental concerns and human rights is becoming more pressing and more present as a priority overall and there is a need to bridge these movements and concerns,” said Amy Weismann, UICHR deputy director and summer institute content coordinator. “We want to encourage the teachers who are in the institute to feel empowered with knowledge and some pedagogical approaches to integrate information and some critical thinking about climate change and its impact on human beings into their teaching.”

The Institute provided information on the science of climate change, the impacts of climate change on ecosystems and human populations as well as current and future adaptations and mitigation strategies. Professor Christine Moroye, UI College Education, served as the faculty facilitator. The Institute included case study discussions on how to integrate environmental education into the classroom. It also examined human rights as a framework for addressing environmental concerns by looking at international policies and a unique research program between the UICHR and Vermont Law School, the Climate Legacy Initiative (see “Climate Change and Human Rights…and the Fierce Urgency of Now” by Burns Weston, in Windows to the World in this issue of Accents).

The UICHR coordinated the course content with participation from faculty in the UI Colleges of Education, Engineering, Liberal Arts and Sciences and Law.

Two free public lectures were also offered.

The keynote address was given by Eugene Takle, who is an Iowa State University professor of atmospheric science and agricultural meteorology. Takle serves on numerous national scientific review panels and has been a contributing author and reviewer of the Third and fourth Assessment reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a co-recipient of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize. His talk examined the global and regional effects of climate change on agriculture, and the importance of investing in education and innovative energy solutions. The science is clear that climate is changing at the global scale, and we need to do something about it,” Takle said. “Mitigation measures to avoid future climate change will have little impact for 50 years. Adaptation strategies need to be put in place immediately to minimize adverse effects of near-term (next 10-20 years) climate change.”

Abby Fenton, education program manager at the Will Steger Foundation delivered a talk entitled “1200 Miles by Dogsled: An Arctic Adventure to the Frontlines of Global Warming.” Fenton took people on a virtual trip to the Arctic where they witnessed the thrill and challenge of the 1,200-mile dogsled expedition across Canada’s beautiful and remote Baffin Island. She also discussed the impact of climate change on the traditional Inuit way of life, and encouraged people to get inspired to take part in solutions in their local communities.

In 2007, internationally renowned polar explorer Will Steger led a cross-cultural expedition team of U.S. and Inuit members to Baffin Island and the front-lines of global warming. Straddling the Arctic circle, Baffin Island is home to several long-standing Inuit communities who still depend significantly on the ability to hunt and fish to support, feed and cloth their families. Known as “the canary in the coal mine,” the polar regions are seeing some of the worst effects of climate change on the planet, including changing weather patterns, melting sea ice, and threatened habitat.