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Campus Hosts Social Studies Conference

Keynote focuses on climate change, impacts and responses

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Climate change is affecting the world, but effective responses to it can happen at a local level.

That was the key message Dr. Rob Hellström, a Bridgewater State University geography professor, shared with social studies teachers on Friday.

“This is a global problem,” Dr. Hellström said. “There are no political boundaries for global warming.”

But, people can more effectively push for change on a local rather than just a national level, Dr. Hellström said, during his address at the Massachusetts Council for the Social Studies conference, which was held in the Dana Mohler-Faria Science and Mathematics Center.

Dr. Hellström shared an array of graphs and maps and illustrated natural and human causes of climate change during his keynote address. Volcanic eruptions, for example, create temporary cooling while burning of fossil fuels leads to warming – were other key takeaways from his address.

About 65 people came to campus for the conference. Attendees selected from sessions on Hinduism, teaching with primary sources, how geography helps people understand historical events and other topics. Educators also learned about proposed revisions to the state’s history and social science curriculum frameworks.

The conference, geared to 6th- through 12th-grade teachers, was part of the council’s efforts to offer more professional development and create programs on a specific topic. This event’s theme was “Going Global,” said Dr. Kerry Dunne, the council’s president.

Bridgewater State stood out as a location for the conference because of its well-regarded geography department, said Dr. Dunne, who works for the Weston Public Schools.

In his keynote speech, Dr. Hellström said evidence of “climate chaos” is visible in heatwaves, droughts and extreme storms. Communities need to improve infrastructure and do more than just respond to events. They need to prepare, he said.

“To deal with this, we need to become more ready especially in vulnerable areas to these increased extreme events,” he said.

Dr. Hellström also highlighted the importance of young people, who can effect change by sharing their vision for the future.

“Young people will make a difference,” he said. (Story and photo by Brian Benson, University News)

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