Schwanke Courses and Instructors

Climate Science, Society, and Solutions

 Course Description:  This course will provide students with a basic understanding of the fundamental scientific and social issues arising from global climate change. Each day we will discuss different topics that cover climate change science, local and global impacts, climate solutions, policy-making, ethics and equity, and psychology.

These big topics are made local and personal as we study climate change on the natural and cultural landscape, consider new perspectives through interactive simulations, talk with local sustainability leaders, and work in teams to develop practical solutions.

Students will grapple with the following questions: How will climate change shape the future? What does climate change look like in Montana and in other parts of the world? How can we conceptualize climate change solutions, both technical and political? And how can we inspire hope in ourselves and others?

Students will assess their carbon footprint and evaluate systemic changes for reducing emissions; identify specific climate impacts in their home and globally; develop a solutions project; keep a climate change journal; and write an op-ed style piece focused at communicating climate change science and information to a public audience.

Course instructor:  Peter McDonough is the program coordinator for UM's Climate Change Studies program. He began teaching as an education volunteer with the Peace Corps in Tanzania, where he lived and taught high school for three years. Service brought to light the global and human reality of environmental crises and the challenge of energy development. Since returning home, Peter has worked primarily in climate change education, introducing a climate and energy class to Stanford’s summer institutes and developing similar courses at UM within Environmental Studies, Climate Change Studies, and the Global Leadership Initiative. Outside of school, he can be found interpreting Swahili for refugees resettling in Missoula, or drumming with the local bagpipe band. Peter holds a BS in Physics from the University of Puget Sound, a MS in Civil and Environmental Engineering from Stanford, and a MS in Environmental Studies from the University of Montana. He identifies as a dog person.

Photo of instructor Peter McDonough