Establish internships that connect students and teachers to the international scope and nature of scientific research on past climate change and human evolution. Internships offer opportunities for students and teachers to experience research firsthand (discovery-based education) in order to learn what scientists do—how they find out about past climate change, human evolution, and the potential impact of environment on human adaptation, and why science depends on the public’s understanding of the ways research is conducted and the meaning of new findings. Such internships would promote cross-national efforts in science education, and would allow students and teachers to participate in regular webcasts from field sites around the world that could be followed online by millions of people in formal and informal educational settings.
Engage adult learners who may be underserved and have ventured away from formal avenues of science education. For example, young adults, typically from about 18 to 34 years of age, are often a lost generation for natural history museums, science centers, and other informal educational institutions. People often visit museums and science centers as children with their families and their schools and then return when they have their own children. This is the demographic that will be the next group of professionals and policy makers. Based on the Web habits of this group, this is a logical target demographic for national science outreach via YouTube, Flickr, and online social networking (e.g., Facebook, Twitter). In addition to building Internet destinations that seek out users based on Web habits, a key activity for reaching general public audiences is through mass media. Collaborating with television production and broadcast organizations (e.g., PBS NOVA, National Geographic, Discovery Channel) requires significant investment of effort and money, but reaches a large audience. Additional ways of engagement involve writing for popular publications (e.g., newspapers, magazines, books) and hosting online and face-to-face meetings that offer the public an opportunity to interact with scientists. All of these efforts would highlight the relevance of research on the interplay between climate change and evolution to society’s overall scientific literacy.
Develop a concise and compelling education guide, curricula for teachers (available in print and online), and traveling exhibitions that introduce the rationale, perspectives, and basic findings concerning the earth system context of human evolution. These outlets would provide activities and identify resources that teachers and students can use and that the general public finds engaging and useful in learning about our planet’s climate, its deep past, and the emergence of human beings. Curriculum modules would aim for use in schools (grades 9-14, tailored to address specific state educational standards), informal science institutions, adult education classes, and other educational settings, and would serve as a resource for teacher training activities. The modules will promote active learning and inquiry, go well beyond the standard treatment of human evolution and climate change in textbooks, and will be disseminated and distributed for free through the Smithsonian and other science research/