Climate Vulnerability: Responding to Earth's Changing Climate

Tim Weiskel

Wednesdays, March 7 - May 9 from 3:30 - 5:30 - 10 sessions
The Engineering Center, One Walnut Street

The world is beginning to witness new and alarming weather events in our daily lives: extended heat waves, droughts, supersized hurricanes, massive downpours and record-setting wildfires driven by gale-force winds. These extreme weather events cause us to pause and reflect about the ways in which we are both personally and collectively vulnerable to any sudden changes in weather.   

As we learn more about the patterns of climate change that may well be underlying these extreme weather events, we have good reason to start thinking about the general problem of climate vulnerability. In the wake of experiences like Hurricane Sandy, individuals, institutions, municipalities, corporations and entire states like New York, New Jersey and Connecticut are now beginning to make plans for contingencies that they never previously considered. They are beginning to realize that both their short-term safety and long-term well-being may well depend on their understanding of the particular nature of their climate vulnerability.  

Just what is climate vulnerability? How is it currently understood? Who – if anyone – is monitoring it? Who is analyzing what needs to be done in response to changes in climate that have already been observed and can reasonably expect to continue? What ought we do about evident vulnerability in the face of uncertainty?   

These are the questions that participants will be invited to investigate and discuss in this course. Members of the course will get access to up-to-date news, authoritative documents, important climate and planning reports, and timely interviews  with key scientists and policy figures who address our climate vulnerability. Further, members of the class will engage collectively in discussions about devising their own strategies to keep informed on these topics to enable them to act as responsible citizens, concerned parents, or informed public advocates in the years ahead.  

Teaching Style: Lecture with discussion     Weekly Preparation: ½-1 hr.


    Tim Weiskel

    Tim Weiskel is the Research Director for the Cambridge Climate Research Associates (CCRA). He received his B.A. from Yale (magna cum laude) and a Doctorate from Oxford where he undertook graduate work as a Rhodes Scholar. In addition, he earned a Masters in Library Science (MLS) in electronic librarianship and designed online research and teaching platforms to devise new forms of instruction for the “Citizen-Science Online Learning Initiative (CSOLI).” Over the last 40 years, Professor Weiskel has taught social anthropology, history, climate change, environmental ethics and environmental justice at colleges and universities throughout New England, including Williams, Yale and Harvard. Further information can be found at