Do you recall playing a little game called tug-of-war as a child (or even as an adult)? If you were playing with one other person, you’d stand on one side, they’d stand on the other, with a rope held between you. You and your friend (or foe) would start tugging the rope and whomever pulled the other person over a line in the center would be declared the winner. Sometimes it’s muddy and sometimes it’s one group of friends versus another group of friends.
For three weeks every summer, undergraduate students from the South Central United States, representing a wide range of cultural backgrounds participate in the “Undergraduate Summer Internship for Underrepresented Minorities” program to visit and learn about climate impacts in the South Central Climate Science Center Region (SC CSC). This year participants spent the balmy month of July starting at Louisiana State University, moving to the University of Oklahoma, and finally ending their trip at Texas Tech University.
We’ve all heard the phrase that science should be explained on the level of sixth- to eighth-graders to be understandable for a general audience, right? But who has ever tried to explain science to actual sixth- to eighth-graders? I can now proudly say I have, and I’ve lived to tell the story.
My interest in understanding the biological, cultural, and historical context of the human experience started at a very young age, and continues to this day. I am an environmental anthropologist, and currently an NC CSC fellow and PhD student in Ecology at Colorado State University. My training has been broad, and has allowed me to work in very different systems. I started down my career path working in Central Asia to understand the late Pleistocene biogeography of humans and Neanderthals during glacial and interglacial periods.
Public opinion and scientific consensus are not always on the same page.
“Science” is a word that means many things to many people. If you were to ask a practicing scientist how they define science, you might receive one of myriad responses. How each of us conceptualizes science may be unique, but most scientists recognize a shared set of methods and a core of objectives, analytical, and empirical values that unify our diverse fields.
I was a bit taken aback on our third day of training at the 6th annual Northwest Climate Boot Camp (NW CBC), which was held at the University of Idaho’s (UI) McCall Outdoor Science School (MOSS) in McCall, Idaho. During our interactive lesson on producing podcasts using Audacity, we were asked to head into McCall and interview members of the community about what water means to them and, if possible, their
Climate change is often a polarizing and controversial topic. It is a heavily politicized issue that should be avoided at all costs during the infamous holiday dinner - or so I’ve been advised. And yet, somehow I got it into my head that I wanted to have an honest and open conversation about climate change with my family members last month.
Something important is missing from your to-do lists, and it’s not what you think it is. As an early career scientist, you probably have more than one of these lists, like me. There’s a professional development to-do list, a “work-life balance” list, and a to-do list for outreach and mentoring of a new generation of scientists (not to mention the daily grind lists of writing, researching, grocery-shopping, etc.). I recently discovered that for years I’ve been overlooking something critical in these priorities. That something is art and creative expression.