As our COP21 Window Into Paris program approaches, we will be featuring an educator in our delegation each week to share their thoughts on the program and how they plan to incorporate their experience at the UN climate change negotiations into their classrooms.
This week’s featured educator is Shannon Bartholomew, a high school biology teacher at Saranac Lake High School in New York state. This is her 8th year teaching biology and she loves it – working with young people is “probably one of the most challenging but rewarding things I have ever done,” says Shannon. She expects to be able to bring her experiences at COP21 to approximately 55 + students.
Q: What sparked your initial interest in our Window into Paris program?
A: I have been involved with a youth climate summit at the Wild Center (A New York State natural history museum) for the past 6 years. When I saw that you were offering a chance to attend COP21 in Paris, I knew that I had to try and bring back this experience for my students.
Q: When and why did you initially become interested in bringing climate change into your classroom?
A: In New York, recognizing anthropogenic climate change has been a part of the curriculum for several years. Since I am invested in inspiring climate leaders, I generally spend more time on this part of the curriculum than others might. And, since I feel that this is an urgent crisis, trying to bring home its impact to our mountain community is very important to me.
Q: Why are the upcoming COP21 climate change negotiations important to you?
A: I feel a change in the momentum. Countries are only beginning to come to terms with the crisis that we have brought upon ourselves and the United States, as a huge contributor to the crisis, has been in denial for far too long. I want to find out from citizens what other countries are doing to mitigate this crisis, and how they may be able to adapt.
Q: What do you hope to accomplish as a Climate Generation Education Ambassador to COP21?
A: I hope to gain a greater understanding of what is happening to people across the globe, so that I can put a face to the data that I present to my students. Humanizing climate change and collecting the stories of the other participants is important for many of my students who don’t view themselves as a part of a global community.
Q: How will you use Climate Generation’s Citizen Climate curriculum and the Window Into Paris experience in your classroom?
A: Prior to Paris, I will be using the Citizen Climate lesson plans to generate interest and questions from my student to address while I am there. Then, through the video conference call, I’ll give them feedback based on the countries that they represented. Finally, we will analyze what they thought would happen as different stakeholders and compare it to what actually comes out of the conference.
Q: What are you most looking forward to with the Window into Paris program?
A: I am looking forward to working and learning more from the Climate Generation team, collaborating with my fellow educators, and being a part of the history of this critical agreement, which will hopefully change the course that we are currently on.