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Storying Climate Change

WPI has an extraordinary opportunity to leverage our student project sites around the world to build a platform for sharing voices and perspectives on meaningful topics. Recording climate change stories engages students with communities on a topic of universal urgency, and in ways that transcend common barriers. The experiences of ordinary people on the ground have not always been solicited in planning for adaptation strategies or in other official narratives and metrics about climate change. We hear about the crisis more frequently in broad terms, such as with regard to policy decisions, or in the context of action (deniers vs activists).

Our students have learned that parts of the world are increasingly affected more than others. Sea level rise will overwhelm certain regions and draught will suffocate others. What is harder to see and understand is how ordinary people experience this in real time. What are the small and significant changes that communities have felt? What are the consequences? How have attitudes and behaviors changed in response? How are communities adapting or even thriving?

These stories have the potential to enable a kind of citizen science. We have learned so far that climate implications are not widely understood or considered. We have heard supporting evidence for new disease vectors or migration decisions. We have also heard optimism for our ability to rethink a global consciousness! We will continue to add more perspectives as we continue our global conversations.