Innovative CReSIS Program To Create Leaders On Urgent Issue of Climate Change


By Uyanga Bazaa
Winter 2008

CReSIS is a partner in a recent grant awarded to KU along with Mexican and Danish universities. Entitled C-CHANGE (Climate Change, Humans, and Nature in the Global Environment), it is part of the Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship (IGERT), which is a NSF-wide program.

The $3 million project is the first IGERT grant awarded in the state of Kansas. An initial cohort of five graduate students in biology, geography, geology, public administration, and sociology began this autumn. Over the next five years, 22 doctoral students will participate in C-CHANGE curriculum to receive a special certification on their doctoral degrees.

C-CHANGE students will engage in fieldwork to better grasp implications of the earth’s changing environment. Fieldwork destinations for the students include communities in Kansas, a retreating ice sheet in Greenland, and a changing Monarch butterfly habitat in Mexico. “They’ll get to see on the ground how scientists measure and understand climate change. They might get any one of these chances in a course of study within a discipline — but they wouldn’t get all of them, and that’s going to make them very well-rounded scientists,” said Joane Nagel, University Distinguished Professor of Sociology, who is heading C-CHANGE.

The program extends beyond KU to include faculty, students and facilities at Haskell Indian Nations University where students and researchers will work together on projects investigating climate change in indigenous communities. Besides recruitment and training, the project is designed to increase public awareness through conferences and education programs, which combine science, engineering, humanities, law, and the arts.