Peach awarded grant to develop course on communicating about climate change

May 01 2013

May 1, 2013

Sara Peach, senior producer for the Reese News Lab, has won a $4,000 Curriculum Development Award from the UNC Center for Global Initiatives.

Peach, who also teaches an environmental journalism course at the school, will use the award this summer to develop a summer 2014 course called “Telling the climate change story in northern Europe” in conjunction with the UNC Institute for the Environment.

The course will focus on water, energy and communication in Germany, Denmark and Sweden. It will build on a new six-week Burch Seminar on energy and sustainability that UNC faculty members Greg Gangi and Elizabeth Shay will teach in those countries this summer.

Peach said the cities of Freiburg, Germany; Copenhagen, Denmark; and Malmö, Sweden, are global leaders in reducing their carbon footprints and preparing for the consequences of climate change. “These cities are laboratories for studying how communities around the world – including U.S. cities like Miami, New York, and Wilmington, N.C. – might respond to and prepare for climate change,” she said.

Peach will spend three weeks this summer with Gangi and Shay to deepen her familiarity with their program, observe the professors and students as they navigate the challenges of the overseas learning environment, meet and interview potential guest speakers, scout potential locations for storytelling projects, and test short versions of her course activities.

In the early weeks of Peach’s 2014 course, students will learn the basic skills of journalism: research, interviewing, writing blog posts and gathering and editing photographs. They will then interview university professors, city planners, ordinary citizens and others about local approaches to climate change to produce news-style stories about what they learn.

For example, students might write a story about five lessons that U.S. cities can learn from planners in Malmö about preparing for the super-storms of the future, or produce a two-minute video about a Copenhagen facility that produces air conditioning using sea water.

“Learning the work of a journalist – sifting through vast amounts of information and distilling those facts into clear and compelling stories – is essential to many careers in the public and private sectors,” said Peach. “The goal of the course is not just to teach students about water, cities and global climate change, but to help them to acquire skills to communicate about the environment for a lifetime.”

In the course, Peach will offer insights drawn from her professional experience covering environmental issues. Her reporting on water, energy and climate change has taken her to the coast of North Carolina, the coalfields of Appalachia and the United Nations climate change negotiations in Copenhagen. She has also served as a coach for the school’s award-winning “Powering a Nation” interactive project about energy in the U.S.

About the award
The Center for Global Initiatives’ Curriculum Development Award supports faculty at all ranks interested in infusing global content into the curriculum at UNC.  The Center makes up to $25,000 in awards annually through a competitive application process held in February.  Learn more at

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