The 2020 Virtual Dialogue of Civilizations Program on Climate Change Science and Policy
By Auroop R Ganguly, David Deeter
The 2020 Dialogue of Civilizations at Northeastern University started out as an oxymoron in a world turned upside down by the novel coronavirus. We wondered how a “virtual study abroad” might look like and what that would mean for our students. While we were unable to travel to our original destination of Tanzania, we were able to provide a unique and interdisciplinary experience for our students, one quite unlike a typical virtual course. Though scaled down, our Climate Dialogue still retained an interdisciplinary flavor: the roster included civil and environmental engineering, environmental science and economics, as well as business and supply chain, majors and minors. Many wondered how we could provide an international cultural immersion to our students without being able to leave our homes, and how could we provide the experiential learning needed for the mock-up simulations we call “climate war games”. To meet this challenge, we developed a highly innovative curriculum in which participants learn from and work with professors and students from across the globe.