Greater than the sum of its parts…

The Program on Climate Change amplifies the University of Washington’s exceptional range of expertise in climate related fields.  Interaction among faculty through PCC activities promotes the integration of existing observational and modeling efforts within and between individual departments, providing a powerful synthesis approach for addressing the problems of climate change.  Through courses, events, and planning for future initiatives, the program unites faculty, graduate students, and more recently undergraduates and off-campus partners, in efforts to understand, mitigate and adapt to climate change.

The PCC mission : to provide a framework of intense cross-disciplinary collaboration that furthers research and education in climate science.

The PCC community is:

  • Understanding the climate system
  • Projecting the consequences of climate change
  • Building collaborations across UW spanning natural sciences, engineering, social and health sciences
  • Performing both basic and applied research from multiple perspectives
  • Training the next generation of climate change research and communication leaders
  • Developing partnerships with communities outside UW
Each year faculty, graduate students and a few invited speakers convene for 3 days at Friday Harbor in the San Juan Islands, on a topic that integrates interests across disciplinary boundaries. This is our annual summer institute. In 2013, approximately 80 participants, pictured above, focused on Climate Forcing of Marine Ecosystems. Some main points included the effects of climate change on fisheries, detecting changes in primary production indicative of climate change, and using models to predict future climate conditions. That year the event was organized by Julie Keister, UW Oceanography.

PCC leadership, representing climate interests from within the College of the Environment and beyond, continues to collaborate to establish a program at the cutting edge of climate change education, research and communication.

In 2013/2014 PCC’s academic programs went through a rigorous review by the Graduate School.  The Review Committee found enthusiastic support from students, faculty and department chairs that fulfills its original purpose of offering interdisciplinary education on climate science and furthering collaboration across campus on climate research. The committee viewed as impressive the program’s accomplishments with specific strengths in:

  • Teaching and Learning. True interdisciplinary teaching and learning, with team-taught courses that assure multiple perspectives are brought to the topics.
  • Students. Engaged and enthusiastic students who value the unique pedagogy of the program and who foster collaborative relationships across departments. There is a nucleus of fellowship-supported students who champion the program and help recruit new students.
  • Faculty. Engaged and enthusiastic junior faculty along with outstanding senior faculty.
  • Leadership. Strong and dedicated leadership in spite of more than 50% cut in funding in 2008.
  • Program Support. Support from the chairs of the initial three departments who expressed continued support for jointly taught courses; strong support from faculty and students.
  • Reputation. The program supports UW as a premier “brand” in the national climate science community.

Image Gallery

Remaining at the cutting edge requires agility and diversity.  Some ways in which we’ve accomplished our mission over the years are illustrated below.

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