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Understanding Climate’s Influence on Human Evolution
areas of scientific research thus offers powerful opportunities for public out-reach aimed at communicating the process and value of science to the welfare of humans, all living things, and entire ecosystems. The subject matter itself, which deals with human survival and adaptation in the past, also offers avenues for inspiring the public’s curiosity about scientific findings relevant to society’s adaptation to climate change in the near and distant future.
A state-of-the-art program in public education and outreach creates opportunities for diverse audiences along several avenues, which include (1) development of dynamic and up-to-date public Internet sites; (2) dissemination of findings via the Internet or using print, radio, and television media; (3) organization of seminars, lectures, and dialogues in venues that are both visible and attractive to the public; (4) interaction with national science educators, who can translate scientific findings and data into the classroom; (5) development of museum-based and less formal exhibitions, which are attractions for family and school-group explorations of and learning about science; (6) engagement of adult learners in the excitement of research and discovery and encouragement of volunteerism (docents); and (7) provision of graduate, undergraduate, and high-school training and research experiences, which offer a means of building the future generations of scientists and educators. As the items in this list illustrate, an effective program of public education and outreach requires skillful approaches to formal and informal learning in which children and adults decide whether to pursue (and for how long) any particular topic that interests them.
No curriculum currently exists to inspire teachers and students to explore the relationship between past climate change, human evolution, and the long-term influence of environment on species survival, adaptation, and mitigation strategies. The following suggestions represent components of a broad effort to redress this deficiency:
Develop opportunities that bring educators and scientists together, and that build new partnerships among research institutions, museums, science centers, and national scientific and education organizations, to contribute to the development of national and state science standards.
Establish a National/International Educator Institute as a long-term effort that employs climate-evolution research to enhance professional educator development.
Establish internships that connect students and teachers to the international scope and nature of scientific research on past climate change and human evolution.
Engage adult learners who may be underserved and have ventured away from formal avenues of science education.
Develop a concise and compelling education guide; curricula for teachers (available in print and online); and traveling exhibitions that introduce the