Some years ago a multi-disciplinary group of UMass Boston professors found themselves discussing their concerns about a range of somewhat related topics: CO2 increases and Arctic ice decreases were reported as greater than the most pessimistic predictions of the IPCC; funding of science and technology research seem increasingly tied to direct payoffs for economic growth; environmentalists are divided about whether to join forces with industry groups to promote technological initiatives that might address climate change or to push for wider democratic debate about how society responds to environmental issues. This wide-ranging exchange led to discussion about how to prepare students to be informed participants in debates about the direction(s) that science and technology take in this era of global climate and environmental change.

Imagine then that this group has charged us with preparing a curriculum unit or other resources to help teach and engage students and members of surrounding communities to participate in questioning and shaping the direction of scientific and social changes (where such changes could include health as well as environmental issues). If teaching anytime soon seems unlikely, you may want to assemble available syllabi connected to your angle, or examples of university-community co-teaching/learning around science issues, or case studies, web sites, and so on. You might instead develop a pilot process for community engagement (such as a "public conversation," "stake-holder meeting," blog, and so on).

One last consideration: Academic institutions these days emphasize that "learning outcomes" must be spelled out and evaluated. The description of your unit or activities should, therefore, include a Reflection at the end that conveys the ways in which the unit or activity demonstrates your attention to the three broad goals for teaching about scientific and political change:
  • To learn about analyses of the political influences on the development of science and technology, and, reciprocally, of influences of such developments on political processes and possibilities;
  • To re-engage with yourselves as avid learners and inquirers; and
  • To organize resources that prepare you to teach and engage students and members of the relevant communities to participate in questioning and shaping the direction of scientific and social changes.