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Exploring the Socio-political Dimensions of Global Warming - page 2 / 5





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The Activity The activity was based on a jigsaw strategy in which individual members of a home group read different materials and then shared their findings with the home group. Students in each home groups (n=5) were asked to play the roles of Senators charged with developing legislation for US policy on global warming. The “Senators” were free to advocate any policy of their choosing (e.g., regulations for dramatic reductions in greenhouse gas emission, endorsement of current policy, national incentives for specific actions, etc.). Below, we outline four phases of the activity. 1) Students were grouped in Senator Home Groups, and the task (i.e., developing legislation for US policy on global warming) was introduced. 2) Students in the Senator Home Groups dispersed to participate in five different Special Interest Groups. At the Special Interest Group, Senators from various home groups, read material presenting a distinct perspective on global warming. The Senators were not asked to assume this perspective; their responsibility was to develop understanding of it in order to eventually share the perspective and their own critique of the perspective with their Home Groups. To support this task, we asked Senators to a) Summarize the main ideas presented; b) Identify evidence used to support the position; c) Identity strengths of the position; and d) Identify weaknesses of the position. 3) Senators re-formed the Home Groups and shared the perspectives they explored as a part of the Special Interest Group Discussions. 4) In the final step, Senators within a Home Group collaborated to develop a bill to establish US policy on global warming. The purpose of this phase was for the Senators to carefully reflect on the various perspectives and recommendations, and then create their own suggestion for a course of action (or inaction).

Perspectives For this activity we created position statements for five fictitious organizations with different interests relative to the issue of global warming. While the organizations were invented, the arguments advanced were consistent with the positions and rhetoric of actual groups, which have contributed to debates associated with global warming. Our intent was to represent the general concerns of environmentalists, business advocates, consumers, scientists, and economists. Brief descriptions of the fictitious organizations are presented in table 1.

[Insert Table 1 about here.] In the Special Interest Groups, students received a handout for one of the organizations. Each handout provided a brief description of the organization, an overview of the organization’s position on global warming, and policy recommendations. In the interest of space, we present two of the special interest groups’ position statements. Material for all of the groups can be found at http://education.ufl.edu/Faculty/tsadler/.

Special Interest Group: Global Economy Watch Position on Global Warming: Global warming is a problem. We recognize that a great deal of consensus exists within the scientific community regarding the significance of global warming. The evidence strongly suggests that human activities related to the release of greenhouse gases contribute to a warming climate.

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