Project History and Origins


The Gonzaga Institute for Climate, Water, and the Environment believes it is important to acknowledge the origins, inspiration and partners that have shaped the Climate Literacy Project. Below is information on what climate literacy is, the project's history, and on-going partnerships that contribute to the project. 

What is Climate Literacy?

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), climate literacy means that you understand the influence of climate on yourself and society and your influence on climate. The Gonzaga Climate Literacy Project seeks to help teachers and students develop a foundational scientific understanding of the complex workings of our climate, what has caused it to change in the past, the most likely causes of its present changes, and the likely global, regional, and local impacts of a changing climate. Building on that scientific knowledge, the Climate Literacy Project invites reflection on the larger cultural, economic, and ethical issues related to climate change and the challenge of engaging the topic. We encourage teachers and students to “make it local and keep it hopeful” and offer concrete pedagogies and lessons for doing so. More...

A climate-literate person:

  • understands the essential principles of all aspects of the Earth systems governing climate patterns and integral human interdependency with Earth systems;
  • knows how to gather information about climate and weather, and how to distinguish credible from non-credible scientific sources on the subject;
  • appreciates that, both within our community and around the world, people of color and the poor have least caused climate change but are disproportionately impacted by its effects and have fewer resources with which to adapt and respond;
  • recognizes the larger economic, social, cultural, political, and ethical contexts that are contributing to climate change and how they affect action to address the climate crisis.

History and Origins

The Institute for Climate, Water, and the Environment and the Climate Literacy Project want to acknowledge the foundational work of the Science in Action! program for their contributions to our professional learning workshops, the model of the Climate Literacy Fellows program, and significant collaboration on the Fellow's lesson plans. The Climate Literacy Fellows program is inspired by and in part modeled after the Gonzaga Science in Action! program. In particular, we thank Science in Action!’s program coordinator, Jiana Stover, for her generous assistance. Jiana and SIA! were instrumental in establishing the Fellows program and developing the original lessons used by the Fellows. They also helped develop and facilitate the first professional development workshop hosted by the Gonzaga Institute for Climate, Water, and the Environment. We owe the SIA! program a debt of gratitude. 

Members of the Gonzaga Biology Department and the Science in Action! program also tested and reviewed the kits used in the Climate Literacy Fellows work. We thank them for their time, attention to detail, and honest review of curricular materials that have made a substantial impact on our program and the lives of students in Spokane. 


Ongoing partners of the Climate Literacy Project include: