New Summer Program Teaches High School Students the Science of Climate Change and How to Impact Policy in Washington


Our world is changing, fast. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the last decade has been the hottest on record, and each of the last three decades has been warmer than the decade before it, with each one setting a new and significant record for the highest global temperature.

Against this backdrop, young people are more engaged than ever. But how can we help them turn their concern into action? That’s where UC San Diego Extension’s new, two-week Global Environmental Leadership and Sustainability program comes in.

“This program provides a unique opportunity for high school students to learn from national leaders how sound research can impact policy,” said Ed Abeyta, assistant dean for community engagement at UC San Diego Extension.

“In young people, we see an intense desire to do something about environmental challenges facing the world,” said Cheryl Peach, director of Scripps Educational Alliances at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego. “The Academic Connections program is where the rubber meets the road—we are helping them understand the process of change so they can carve out a pathway for their future careers.”

Offered through Academic Connections, in partnership with Scripps Institution of Oceanography, this two-week program immerses high school students in the Social Change Model of Leadership, combined with true scientific process. For the first week, they stay and study in San Diego, learning the science behind their concerns under the guidance of active graduate students at Scripps Oceanography.

For week two of the program, students move to Washington, D.C. where they learn how to write one-page issue papers, how to craft key messages that resonate with their audience, and to draw on emotion as well as data. They will meet with prestigious speakers, learn more about advocacy, and find out who is responsible for climate change policy in Washington.

“What is important about this program is that students gain understanding of the science behind climate change by doing their own hands-on experiments,” said UC San Diego Extension’s Leslie Bruce. “Once they understand the science behind it, they can decide what they want to tell our country’s leaders to prevent further damage to the planet and our climate. It’s learning how to speak ‘Science’ to ‘Power’ so they can educate policy makers, decision makers, and law makers about what they’ve learned, and what they might recommend.”

The program will run the first half of July in 2015. You can learn more by visiting UC San Diego Extension’s Academic Connections online. To contribute to its success, and help send an underserved student to the program, please consider a scholarship gift.

Sign Up For
Explorations Now

explorations now is the free award-winning digital science magazine from Scripps Institution of Oceanography. Join subscribers from around the world and keep up on our cutting-edge research.