Guest post by NYSCI’s Michaela Labriole
Climate change is not often at the forefront of people’s minds when they’re running errands, hanging out with friends, or relaxing at home, but as part of a project called Climate and Urban Systems Partnership (CUSP), NYSCI has been hard at work exploring ways to help urban audiences understand how their interests connect to systems that could be impacted by climate change. If you’re grabbing a snack at the bodega, you’re probably not thinking about climate change, but you might be if you knew how it could affect food prices. Similarly, the reliability of a city’s energy infrastructure isn’t usually cause for concern until increased brownouts during summer heat waves affect your ability to do things like use your computer.
CUSP is a partnership of four museums and two universities, funded through the National Science Foundation’s Climate Change Education Partnership program. The CUSP team includes research and educational institutions in New York City, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Washington, D.C. In each city, museum partners have brought together Urban Learning Networks (ULN) made up of individuals and organizations interested in delivering climate change messages and programming to diverse audiences. ULNs not only include science institutions, but also art museums, theater groups, community centers, and more.
Here in NYC, the ULN has been working on digital tools and strategies to help deliver these messages. This includes the creation of a digital map that will allow people to upload local stories, videos, data and pictures related to climate change impacts, projects or programs. Additionally, ULN members will be generating a series of synchronized climate change messages that will be shared via different social messaging platforms. In this way, a person might encounter the same message about energy use, food prices, or flooding through a NYSCI tweet, a theater group Facebook post, and a community center blog entry. By coordinating delivery of information and tying the mobile map to social messaging platforms, we aim to reinforce our message by helping urban audiences visualize themselves as part of a larger system that will be impacted by climate change.
We’re just at the start of this five-year project, and it is never too late to join. In addition to the digital tools, the project will include the development kits to use at festivals, and programmatic resources for community and school outreach. If you’d like to join the ULN or simply want more information, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.