Raleigh, N.C. — Focus the Nation, the nationwide project in January that highlighted issues in climate change, was among the largest teach-ins ever organized, with about 1,900 colleges and other groups participating.
Now, Eban S. Goodstein, a professor of economics at Oregon’s Lewis and Clark College who organized the project, wants to hold another teach-in that rivals the size of Focus the Nation. But this time the program will concentrate on the policies on climate change that will come out of President-elect Barack Obama’s first 100 days in office. The project is called the National Teach-In on Global Warming Solutions.
“The motivating force here is that presidents who get stuff done get it done in the first 100 days,” Mr. Goodstein said between sessions here at the national conference of the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education. “This is a time for young people to engage with political leaders in Washington and basically spend a day learning, and take that learning to decision makers.”
Here at the conference, Mr. Goodstein is asking sustainability directors to return to their campuses and recruit faculty members to participate in the teach-in, which will take place on February 5. More than 300 colleges have signed up so far.
The teach-in will include Webcasts featuring eco-luminaries like David W. Orr, a professor of environmental studies at Oberlin College, and L. Hunter Lovins, a professor at the Presidio School of Management. Mr. Goodstein is also working with the office of Rep. Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the House of Representatives, to set up virtual video chats between students and members of Congress.
The latest science on climate change says that unless people reduce emissions in the next few years, the effects of climate change will be much more dire, Mr. Goodstein said. With Democrats in control of Congress and the White House, he and others see an opportunity to shape greenhouse-gas policies.
“Americans get that global warming is big and bad and real, but very few people understand the very short time frame we have for action — except for educators,” he said. “There are people on every campus that understand this and are eager to get involved.” —Scott Carlson