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Past Teach-Ins

The 2017 Climate Change Teach-In, "Building Communities for Climate Action", will feature Vanessa Rule, founder of Mothers Out Front and Carl Spector, Commissioner of the Environment for the City of Boston.

  • Location: Cumnock Hall, UMass Lowell, North Campus
  • Date: Thursday, October 19, 2017
  • Time: 4–6 p.m.

Arrive early for refreshments, registration, networking and poster/display viewing


Vanessa Rule, Mothers Out Front, Co-Founder, Director of Expansion and Learning.

Vanessa Rule has been working since 2007 on building the grassroots power needed for decision-makers to transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy in order to address the climate crisis. She initially worked with other Somerville residents leading Somerville Climate Action, educating and facilitating change in the residential, municipal, and business sectors.  In 2009, she co-founded Better Future Project and 350 Massachusetts to help build broad political support for a state and regional transition off fossil fuels. In 2012, she co-founded Mothers Out Front, where she currently acts as Director of Expansion and Learning, to organize and mobilize the power of mothers to ensure that that decision-makers represent all children's interests in the face of the climate crisis.

Carl Spector, City of Boston, Commissioner of the Environment.

Carl Spector is Commissioner of the Environment for the City of Boston. He oversees programs related to climate mitigation and adaptation, environmental protection, historic preservation, and other aspects of sustainability. Before joining Boston City Hall in 2005, Carl worked on a wide variety of environmental and energy issues for the federal government and in private industry. He holds degrees in physics and environmental science.

Our Purpose

The Climate Change Initiative (CCI) seeks to raise awareness on the greatest challenge facing humanity: climate change. It serves as a catalyst on climate change and sustainability issues on campus and beyond. Internationally renowned climate scientists, policy experts, and activists have been featured speakers including Drs. Michael Mann, Kerry Emanuel, Paul Kirshen, Bill Moomaw, Jennifer Francis, Bruce Anderson, John Sterman, Elizabeth Sawin and Mayor Joe Curtatone, as well as experts in climate communication and social movements (Geoffrey Haines-Stiles, Eli Kintisch, Wen Stephenson, Michael Gordan, Spencer Glendon and Craig Altemose). The event is webcast and draws viewers from around the United States.In addition, explore CCI online resources, including curriculum information and modules, research and blog updates.

Watch videos and read articles about past Teach-Ins.


"Dealing with a Changing World"How do we respond to what now seems inevitable? What can we do? What are the opportunities and challenges for creative solutions? The 2016 Teach-In featured Michael Gordon, Executive Director and founding partner of Climate Action Business Association and Spencer Glendon, Partner at Wellington Management Company.

Over 400 students, faculty and community members attended the 2016 Teach-In, which coincided with UMass Lowell's first National and International Conference on Sustainability.

Ed Brennen reports on the event and a revealing attitude and perception study by University sociology students.

If you missed the Teach-In this year, you can watch full video coverage.


The 2015 Teach-In featured Dr. Naomi Oreskes of Harvard University on "Setting Records (Straight): Our changing climate & record-setting extreme weather. Is it time to set the record straight and move towards solutions?"

Naomi Oreskes is one of the world’s leading historians of science and is co-author of "TheCollapse of Western Civilization" and "Merchants of Doubt," which inspired a documentary of the same name released in the Spring 2015. She has won numerous prizes for her work and written Op-Ed pieces in the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, and the San Francisco Chronicle, as well as; providing expert testimony to the U.S Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works.

Over 500 students, faculty and community members attended the 2015 Teach-in!

Watch full video coverage of the event.


In addition to MIT Prof. John Sterman, a leading expert in system dynamics of climate change, speakers included Executive Vice Chancellor Jacqueline Moloney, who delivered the opening remarks, Boston University Prof. Bruce Anderson and Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone, whose city has been voted by the Boston Globe as the “best-run city in Massachusetts.” The event also showcased research posters and exhibits by UMass Lowell students and faculty.

Biology Assoc. Prof. and CCI Director Juliette Rooney-Varga described the university’s growing resources dedicated to climate change research and education.

If you missed this year’s Teach-In, you can watch the entire program. To see photos of the event, go to the CCI Facebook page.

2013 Teach In

Oct. 17, 2013,  Too Late for What? Real Choices on a Changing Planet: Fifth Annual Climate Change Teach-In.

Over 450 faculty, staff, students and community members gathered to find out what leading experts on climate change impacts, activism, and policy are saying about our choices today and our world tomorrow. Check out Full Event Coverage of the 2013 Teach-In event, featuring Chancellor Marty Meehan, Juliette Rooney-Varga, Ph.D., Jennifer Francis, Ph.D., Wen Stephenson and Elizabeth Sawin, Ph.D. See below for segmented coverage.

Links to Presentations: Chancellor Marty Meehan and Wen Stephenson.

For specific segments:

Speaker biographies:

Jennifer Francis, Ph.D., Research Professor, Institute for Coastal and Marine Science, Rutgers University. Francis co-founded and co-directed the Rutgers Climate and Environmental Change Initiative and studies Arctic climate change and Arctic-global climate linkages.

Wen Stephenson, a writer and climate activist, is a contributor to Grist and the Boston Phoenix and has written about climate and culture for the Boston Globe, The New York Times, and Slate.

Elizabeth Sawin, Ph.D., Co-Director of Climate Interactive. She is a scientist, writer, teacher, and public speaker whose work for the past fifteen years has combined analysis with coaching, teaching and communication approaches that help people transform systems towards sustainability.

2012 Teach In

  • October 9, 2012 - Climate Change Teach-In, "Leaving Your Comfort Zone: a Scientist and a Journalist Take Risks to Address Climate Change" featuring Dr. Michael Mann, renowned climate scientist and author of "The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars: Dispatches from the Front Lines” and Eli Kintisch, reporter for Science magazine and author of "Hack the Planet: Science's Best Hope - or Worst Nightmare - for Averting Climate Catastrophe." See the live coverage of the 2012 event.

2011 Teach In

  • Oct. 20, 2011, Climate Change Teach-In: "Old Media, New Media: the Promise and Perils of Communicating Climate Change," Featuring Geoffrey Haines-Stiles, writer and producer of "Earth: The Operators Manual." Hosted by renowned geoscientist, Richard Alley, Ph.D., the project conveys core climate change science and sustainable energy solutions.
    • Over 400 participants - UMass Lowell students, faculty and staff and area high school students
    • UMass Lowell News Coverage

2010 Teach In