Interdisciplinary Humanities Group: Climate Change

Group leaders: Denise Keele (Department of Political Science), Ron Kramer (Sociology) and Dave Karowe (Biological Sciences)

Initiated in the spring of 2012, the interdisciplinary Climate Change Working Group operates under the auspices of the WMU Center for Humanities. The three original founders are Ron Kramer (Sociology), Paul Clements (Political Science) and Dave Karowe (Biological Sciences). As climate change will affect all of us, without regard to academic discipline, the group has encouraged an integrated and interdisciplinary approach as essential to developing knowledge and encouraging action. The Climate Change Working Group is proud to report that the group now consists of about 50 faculty and staff, of which about 20 are active “core” members. Core members include faculty in the Departments of Environmental and Sustainability, Biological Sciences, Political Science, Sociology, Chemistry, English, Geological and Environmental Sciences, Geography, and also administrators and staff of the Lee Honors College, Office for Sustainability, and College of Arts and Sciences Dean’s Office.

Primary goals

  1. Education of WMU students, faculty and staff to increase their awareness and understanding of climate change
  2. Community outreach to engage interested citizens in activities related to climate change mitigation
  3. Extramural funding for research and training related to climate change

In the 2017-18 academic year, the Climate Change Working Group was extremely active in meeting the above goals. During this time, membership in the Climate Change Working Group email list increased to over 120. Research briefs by existing faculty in engineering created new connections between previously disconnected units on campus. Guest speakers at one of the groups meeting's included student activist group, Sunrise, which now has a WMU chapter. The group hosted or conducted several outreach events including: Dr. Vinod Thomas' lecture in October; Christian Parenti's lecture in November; Climate Change Theatre Action to Present 9 Short Climate Change Plays from Around the World (organized by and featuring our very own Tom Small); "Criminal Justice, Social Justice, and Climate Justice" by Ron Kramer in November; MLK Day Teach-In "Environmental Justice and Climate Change Crisis Sessions." A highlight of the group's activities for the year was the group's sponsorship of and active participation in Kalamazoo’s 2018 Earth Day in April.