Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Andrew C Revkin, NY Times science reporter, blogger, educator and global connector

Originally uploaded by Andy Revkin
:I’m convinced," writes science educator Andrew Revkin, "that there is vast untapped potential to use the Web and other means to build global awareness and meaningful relationships. Here’s some evidence. While giving a talk at Linfield College in Oregon in September, I learned of a professor of U.S.-Russian relations at another school who, on his own and with no extra budget or bureaucracy, recently linked his course through Web video with another course in U.S.-Russian relations in St. Petersburg, Russia. The same could be done for courses in climate policy, linking North and South, and even within schools. Imagine parallel deconstructions of climate legislation by, say, political science students and climate science students, using an online document dissector — essentially a more sophisticated, layered variant of the speech and document annotations done here on Dot Earth."

"The core of my work at Pace University will be the creation of a classroom and online course that, in essence, is an expansion of Dot Earth. As is the case here, the prime framing question explored each year by students will be: 9 Billion People + 1 Planet = ? This course will use mechanisms I tried in a seminar I taught a few years ago at the Bard Graduate Center for Environmental Policy. At Bard, for certain core assignments, students were divided into groups taking the approaches of different stakeholders in the drama of human development on a finite planet.

At Pace, I envision teams of students taking on the stance of techno-optimists and libertarians on one side and proponents of steady-state economics and growth limits on the other. Depending on the issue, they could be the Global North and South, or “ Guardians of the Future” versus interests of today. For discussions of the science, they would critically examine the role of “real” skepticism and the perils of oversimplification and advocacy when science meets the media and politics. I’d love to think that each year this course could produce a Web-based wiki-style product and/or printable book memorializing the journey."

"Lately, I’ve been describing the kind of inquiry I do on Dot Earth as providing a service akin to that of a mountain guide after an avalanche."