Managing for a Changing Climate: From France to Oklahoma

Dr. Renee McPherson, Oklahoma EPSCoR researcher and University of Oklahoma (OU) associate professor in the Department of Geography and Environmental Sustainability, has been selected by the Association of American Geographers to participate as an official observer at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Paris, France.  Dr. McPherson will attend the second week of the twelve-day meeting, which will be held Nov. 30-Dec. 11, 2015. 

The UNFCCC brings together governments of more than 190 nations to discuss a possible new global agreement on climate change.

“This convention should be of interest to all Americans because nations across the world will choose how significant the impacts of climate change will be based on the negotiated policies,” explained Dr. McPherson. “Although these negotiations may have limited impact on today’s senior Americans, they will greatly affect the kind of world their children and grandchildren will have to live in.”

Students at the University of Oklahoma have the unique opportunity to experience and participate in this history-making meeting through a new course, “Managing for Climate Change,” established by Dr. McPherson and her OU colleagues, Drs. Berrien Moore and Elinor Martin.  Dr. Moore is the OU Vice President of Weather and Climate Programs and dean of the OU College of Atmospheric and Geographic Sciences.  Dr. Martin is an assistant professor in the OU School of Meteorology. 

“Today’s college students are concerned about climate change,” said Dr. McPherson. “They want to know that leaders around the world will step up and make necessary sacrifices to reduce the burden from climate change impacts.”

The fall 2015 course will immerse students in the multi-faceted world of climate science as they take on the role of a participating UNFCCC country.  Students will study economics and policy issues, the physical components of the climate system, as well as the human and ecosystem interactions related to a changing climate.

Students will learn about sophisticated computer programs that allow researchers to study multifaceted physical interactions related to global climate change.  They will also learn how these models work, how to interpret the data, and how the information can be used by decision- and policy-makers.

As a capstone for the course, students will participate in a mock convention as a representative of their adopted UNFCCC country. 

During the Paris meeting, Dr. McPherson will be live-tweeting and blogging about her experience, allowing students to observe the choices their countries are making at the convention.

To enroll in Managing for Climate Change (GEOG 3890, Section 001 – Selected Studies in Geography), students should contact their OU advisor or email Ms. Aparna Bamzai at Seating is limited to 30 students this semester.  The course will be offered online and to the public in fall 2016; enrolled students will have access to content from classrooms worldwide.  A video about the course may be accessed at