Strengthening Community Engagement and Resilience Efforts in Climate Change: Public Program Strategies

CIRI Blog

Published: February 8, 2018 by Dr. Chris Hagar

Climate change is a hot topic in current political agendas and seen as a global crisis. This semester, climate change and informal science learning practices will be discussion topic in INFO 281-13 “Crisis /Disaster Health Informatics” course. Students will discuss a paper “Strengthening Community Engagement and Resilience Efforts in Climate Change: Public Program Strategies” that I presented with Dr. Karen Brown (Professor, School of Information Studies, Dominican University, IL) at the Integrated Disaster Risk Management (IDRiM) Conference 2017 held in Reykjavik, Iceland (https://www.idrim2017.com). The paper describes the Public Libraries Advancing Community Engagement (PLACE) programs for adults which combine engaging readings, videos, and lively discussions about resiliency and adaptation in the face of climate change to encourage understanding and action.

The project, funded by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, targets rural and under-resourced communities and brings together a scientist and librarian to co-host a series of three community programs, each organized around a different theme – community, change, or strategy. The science partners and librarians are encouraged to guide the program conversations in such a way that the themes are discussed in a thoughtful, interactive, and nonthreatening environment. Over forty communities across the United States are participating in the project. Librarians receive professional development about core climate change and resilience concepts, collaborating with community organizations and agencies to advance planning and preparedness, promoting programs to audiences who might be intimidated or unaccustomed to talking about climate change, and facilitating program discussions. To promote and advance the public library’s participation in community resilience, adaptation, and disaster management activities, a central focus of the professional development is on crisis informatics. The project is designed to help communities build resilience by increasing environmental literacy specific to their region’s geography and the associated climate vulnerabilities and threats.