By Estefania Magdalena | Staff Writer
October is Climate Month, and the University of Hawaiʻi Office of Sustainability hosted different activities at the University of Hawai’i and their respective campuses. The objective has been to create virtual meeting spaces in which a debate can be generated among the professors who teach at the University of Hawai’i.
Climate Month is an event conformed by weekly meetings during the whole month of October, in which interested teachers and students, can find support and share their experiences on the practices they carry out when teaching and learning. The exchange encourages each one to share new ideas with their colleagues and address new strategies in order to provide a better environmental education to students from the different university campuses.
Jaclyn Lindo, a professor of economics of the Social Science Department at KapCC, said that the purpose of the weekly meetings that were organized were to have a space to dialogue with colleagues about important aspects related to the climate crisis that the planet is suffering. Lindo said that it is also important to discuss how these issues can be approached in relation to the different disciplines that each professional is responsible for teaching.
“Sustainability crosses all the disciplines. We can’t just study sustainability,” Lindo said. “You have to know how to communicate to the public or to the media about these issues. You have to understand the financial impact behind them, you have to talk about the psychological impacts. It touches every discipline.”
During the sessions there are different panels that invite professors from other disciplines to speak on issues that derive from sustainability problems such as natural resources management and ecological issues.
“A lot of the sessions were designed for faculty to come together to share about teaching practices and how to communicate with students about the anxiety of climate change and how we cope with these different reactions about the impacts of climate changes,” Lindo said.
The importance of Climate Month this year is that it was a tool for faculty to improve their teaching as they try to support students and that it gave teachers an opportunity to connect with faculty in other campuses, since sometimes they don’t find the time to connect and talk about these topics as colleagues.
Events like Climate Month are a very rare opportunity that faculty has to get together and break down the barriers that separate their disciplines.
“This allows everyone to jump on Zoom, meet together with other faculty from your discipline and just be, we call it, a community of practice,” Linso said. “Where faculty with the same mission and supporting students navigate in a world that changes so quickly so we can support each other to be better support for our students.”
All of the campuses of UH offer classes that are designated with a sustainability focus. Each campus has their own process about how that happens, but Lindo said that KapCC was the leader in developing a process to get courses designated as sustainability focused.
Among the courses that KapCC offers, there are classes specifically geared towards climate sustainability. Although it is not a mandatory requirement for faculty team members, some professors who choose to teach their class with a sustainable approach, collaborate with other faculty members and prepare through a process to visualize and integrate sustainability concepts in their courses.
Lindo teaches her economics classes with a sustainability focus, and she has participated in the process of collaborating with other teachers to adopt this approach for 5 years. Professors who want to get involved in this process have the possibility of obtaining an Academic Subject Certificate in Sustainability as a complement that adds to their training as teachers.
The last session of Climate Month will be held on Friday, Oct. 30, and the University of Hawaiʻi News said that speakers for the closing keynote will be announced. In order to register and receive more information fill out the form here and contact Lindo at firstname.lastname@example.org.