USD Awarded Major National Science Foundation Grant to Develop Innovative Communication and Education Strategies to Advance Climate Science

Nearly $1 Million Grant, One of Only 15 in the U.S., and Only University-based Award in California

The University of San Diego (USD) announced today a National Science Foundation (NSF) major grant given to only 15 recipients nationwide who will take the lead in planning collaborations centered on increasing climate science literacy.  Awarded under the NSF’s Climate Change Education Partnership (CCEP) program, these partnership grants are designed to connect climate scientists, learning science experts and practitioners to create innovative and transformative education and communication strategies with regional and national implications.

The lead scientist on the grant, Dr. Michel Boudrias of USD’s Marine Science and Environmental Studies department, stated, “The Climate Change Education Partnership award of almost $1 million will be used to develop a regional climate change communication program that promotes education, awareness, innovation and action.”  The newly created San Diego Regional Climate Education Partnership will develop comprehensive strategic communications and education plans to increase climate science literacy, mitigation behaviors, and adaptation awareness in the San Diego region, with particular emphasis on the audiences outside formal school environments.  The University of San Diego’s team for the project include scientists from Marine Science and Environmental Studies at USD and at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, policy experts from the Energy Policy Initiative Center at USD, social and behavioral psychologists from California State University San Marcos, strategic community planners from The San Diego Foundation and a strategic communication expert from The Steve Alexander Group.

During the two-year project, the team will develop a comprehensive plan to engage communities in a productive dialogue on the impacts of climate change. The effort includes assessment of key opinion, community and business leaders to determine levels of climate science awareness and preferred policies and actions for addressing the impacts of climate change locally, state-wide and nationally.

“We want to work closely with a broad spectrum of community leaders from across the region – including  elected officials, the Latino community, the real estate development  community, and faith-based and tribal communities -- to develop a communication and education program that reflects the views, values and perspectives of the region’s political, business and community leaders” Boudrias said. “The grant and potential follow-up awards can have a significant impact on developing responses to climate change that positively impact job creation, water conservation, housing construction, transportation, coastal protection and other areas that define the region’s quality of life.”

“The University of San Diego is proud of this prestigious award and of the team assembled, which will help the region become educated about the impacts of climate change on our daily lives,” announced USD President Mary E. Lyons. “USD is humbled to aid the region and its leaders to think innovatively about how to promote economic health, sustain our quality of life and help us serve as a model for the rest of the country.”

San Diego’s elected officials also offered their support for the grant. “The city of San Diego welcomes the opportunity to participate in the University of San Diego’s program,” said city of San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders. “We know our citizens don’t have to make a choice between a healthy environment and a good economy, and they expect us to play a leadership role in ensuring we’re adopting good government policy to maintain the quality of life for our region while strengthening our economy.”

“This effort could not come at a more critical time,” said San Diego County Supervisor Ron Roberts. “In my role as a member of the California Air Resources Board, I know how important it is that we work together throughout the region on air quality and emission programs. This award by the National Science Foundation, led by the University of San Diego, and including climate scientists at Scripps Institution of Oceanography and social psychologists from California State University San Marcos, can help us address those issues as a region and also serve as a model for other communities across the state. I look forward to working with the team.”

While communication strategies and climate science education are keys to the success of this grant, the ultimate goal is to develop action plans that will benefit the region by promoting responses to climate change and its impacts on public health, water quality and supply, natural lands and other key areas.

The University of San Diego is a Roman Catholic institution committed to advancing academic excellence, expanding liberal and professional knowledge, creating a diverse and inclusive community, and preparing leaders dedicated to ethical conduct and compassionate service. Chartered in 1949, the university enrolls more than 7,800 students and is known for its commitment to teaching, the liberal arts, the formation of values and community service. Located on 180 acres overlooking the city of San Diego, Mission Bay and the Pacific Ocean, the campus is a community treasure, with Spanish Renaissance- inspired buildings and breathtakingly beautiful landscapes. USD offers more than 60 bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees. The university adds depth to education by inspiring students to grow spiritually, morally and socially. For more information go to

About the University of San Diego

The University of San Diego sets the standard for an engaged, contemporary Catholic university where innovative Changemakers confront humanity’s urgent challenges. With more than 9,000 students from 69 countries and 50 states, USD is the youngest independent institution on the U.S. News & World Report list of top 100 universities in the United States. The university's eight academic divisions include the College of Arts and Sciences, the School of Business, the Shiley-Marcos School of Engineering, the School of Law, the School of Leadership and Education Sciences, the Hahn School of Nursing and Health Science, the Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies, and the Division of Professional and Continuing Education. USD's Envisioning 2024 strategic plan capitalizes on the university’s recent progress and aligns new strategic goals with current strengths to help shape a vision for the future as the university looks ahead to its 75th anniversary in the year 2024.