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K-State Today

March 29, 2012

Harrington, Champion making presentations at London global change conference

Submitted by Communications and Marketing

More than 3,000 global change scholars are assembled this week in London for the Planet Under Pressure 2012 conference. Attendees include K-State's John Harrington Jr., professor of geography, and Ben Champion, director of sustainability, who are both making conference presentations dealing with K-State climate change research.

Planet Under Pressure is a major scientific gathering designed to detail existing scientific knowledge regarding the state of the planet and the rates of global change prior to the Rio + 20 UN Conference on Sustainable Development and the Earth Summit 2012.

Champion is presenting "Beyond skepticism: Trust and engaged educational models for transforming agricultural and community decision-making in the face of climate uncertainty in the rural U.S. Central Great Plains."

Champion said his presentation outlines results of the university's Central Great Plains Climate Education Partnership from the past two years. He describes challenges producers and rural communities face from climate change; gives results from 22 focus groups with ag producers, rural community members and rural educators about their concerns about climate change and what information and education they need; and discusses proposed education programs for each of these three types of stakeholders based on locally-relevant data, trusted messengers, inquiry-based methods and deliberative frameworks.

More information on the partnership is available at www.k-state.edu/cgp-ccep.

Harrington's presentation is "Integrating climate and energy research: the challenges and accomplishments in Kansas, USA," details the efforts, successes and challenges associated with building a community of collaborating scientists and engineers in Kansas as part of the NSF EPSCoR – National Science Foundation Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research – project on climate and renewable energy.

Themes Harrington identifies to help faculty bridge across disciplinary and campus boundaries include solar energy, land use and cover change, adaptation and mitigation, life cycle analysis, the arts and education/outreach. He said individuals involved are self-selected, understand the value of multidisciplinary thinking and are willing to invest time and energy in learning the language, perspectives and cultures associated with other scholarly groups. These individuals are lifelong learners who value the deeper understanding gained from developing new perspectives and shared values. A vision of project outcomes includes improved multidisciplinary understanding of possible responses to changes in Kansas and the development of science-based guidelines for future adaptation.