Climate Change Education Partnership Alliance Brings Experts to San Diego to Discuss Climate Issues and San Diego’s Regional Leadership

Groups attending focused on the impacts of climate change and efforts by the National Science Foundation to promote education among regional leaders and wide-ranging audiences throughout the US to explore ways to help others understand the significance of climate impacts; San Diego Unified Port District highlighted for its pioneering climate planning success

SAN DIEGO – Experts from around the country gathered in San Diego last week to exchange ideas and opportunities for creating effective education about the impacts of the world’s changing climate and how it affects people and communities throughout the US. Attendees at the Climate Change Education Partnership Alliance annual meeting included behavioral scientists, educators, climate scientists and other leaders from six National Science Foundation-funded projects. As the local host for the conference, San Diego’s Climate Education Partners highlighted regional achievements addressing climate change from such groups as the San Diego Unified Port District and The San Diego Foundation.

The event included discussion with a panel of experts who have been working together with regional leaders and scientists to help educate others throughout the San Diego region as they plan for the impacts of the region’s changing climate. Panelists included Emily Young, Vice President of Community Impact at The San Diego Foundation; Mike McDade, President of McDade Strategic Consulting and long-time business, community and government leader in the region; and Steve Alexander, President of The Steve Alexander Group, specializing in strategic communications, with expertise in training and coaching leaders throughout the US. McDade also serves as the chairman of Climate Education Partners’ External Advisory Board, which includes leaders of government, business, non-profit and educational institutions. San Diego Unified Port District’s Director of Environmental and Land Use Management, Jason H. Giffen, was also a featured speaker, discussing the Port’s successful adoption of its climate action plan.

Climate Education Partners’ grant from the National Science Foundation focuses on working together with regional leaders and scientists to ensure the region’s quality of life can be preserved in the midst of the region’s changing climate and related impacts. Leaders throughout the region are working with world-renowned scientists from Scripps Institution of Oceanography on impact areas that include wildfires, coastal flooding, nature’s benefits (the benefits that come from the region’s natural resources), health-related impacts from high heat and other weather phenomena and water resources. The regional and statewide drought, for example, makes the work of this group particularly timely.

Other grantees gathered together focus on educating people through zoos and museums, working with Pacific Island populations, K-12 and others. Grantees conducted sessions comparing project progress, challenges and results, and shared ideas that might help each effort with their key audiences.

“San Diego, as an arid, coastal community, provides the perfect backdrop for this year’s Alliance gathering,” stated Jill Karsten, Program Director for Education Diversity at the National Science Foundation. “Regional leaders in San Diego, from the public opinion research we’ve seen, take great pride in being a national leader. Working together with Scripps Institution of Oceanography scientists, those leaders have a chance to leverage what we’re learning about the impacts of a changing climate to prepare the region and inform development of new climate-savvy approaches that can be used throughout the world.”

During the conference, the Port’s Director of Environmental and Land Use Management Jason Giffen described the process the Port of San Diego used to engage the community in developing its Climate Action Plan, which will help the Port to meet state mandates to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change.

“Our region is a leader in responding to this worldwide challenge,” Giffen stated. “The Port took this seriously and its board and staff worked together with our tenants and the surrounding community, along with experts, to develop a meaningful plan. We’re making progress through cooperation and education, and the Port takes pride in the work it’s been able to accomplish toward meeting its climate-related goals.”

Attendees included behavioral scientists, educators, climate scientists and other leaders from throughout the US and funded by the National Science Foundation to explore more collaborative ways to help people understand the importance of the impacts of a changing climate. Their work focuses on key populations according to each grant. The work done over these three days will help inform their efforts during the remainder of this grant cycle, approximately two more years.

“We are pleased to host this event, and proud that San Diego regional leaders have joined together to work with our science community to prepare future generations for the impacts from a changing climate,” shared Michel Boudrias and Mica Estrada, co-leaders of the local Climate Education Partners grant.

One example of the work done by the local partnership is the video production and related report and website created by Climate Education Partners. 

The video, titled, "Answering the Call," was released earlier this year and was shared with this group of visiting experts. It introduces the partnership, along with such regional leaders as County Supervisor Ron Roberts, Congressman Scott Peters, San Diego County Water Authority General Manager Maureen Stapleton and Farm Bureau President Julie Walker. “Answering the Call” also promotes the report released by the partnership, titled, “San Diego, 2050 Is Calling. HOW WILL WE ANSWER?” This report is an update from an earlier effort by The San Diego Foundation, and provides a regional resource for dealing with the impacts of a changing climate. These products connect local scientists with regional leaders, working hand-in-hand on efforts to manage the impacts from the region’s changing climate.

These efforts are designed to help future generations who will inherit the region’s high quality of life, and focus on the efforts of regional leaders to do the important work today.

The “San Diego, 2050 Is Calling” report underscores that 97 out of 100 climate scientists agree that climate-warming trends over the past century are very likely due to human activities. The report further cites recent public opinion surveys, which have found that an overwhelming majority—84 percent—of San Diego County residents believe climate change is happening and almost as many expect the impacts to affect them, their families and future generations.

“San Diego, 2050 Is Calling” addresses the importance of the regional economy and how preparing for the impacts of a changing climate will help the region stay ahead of the challenges it and other communities throughout the nation are facing. The statewide drought affecting the San Diego region, along with the threat of wildfire, demonstrate some of the impacts on our region’s quality of life, economy and real-world issues like loss of homes.

In addition to the report, Climate Education Partners created a website ( for those seeking to download the report, as well as more information, data and research behind the science included in the report. Also included on the site are a wider range of options for community leaders to consider. Copies of the report are available by contacting Brian Teng from Climate Education Partners at 619.260.4290 or The website for Climate Education Partners and more in-depth information can be found at

The work of the teams gathered in San Diego will serve as a key educational resource for the nation. San Diego’s Climate Education Partners is one of only six National Science Foundation-funded projects dedicated to exploring new ways to communicate climate change science to diverse audiences. Climate Education Partners has focused its efforts on regional leaders so they can work hand-in-hand with scientists to dialogue and discuss potential solutions and strategies to deal with regional climate change impacts. Climate Education Partners includes scientists and educators from the University of San Diego (USD) and Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego, social and behavioral psychologists from CSU San Marcos and UCSF, community partners from The San Diego Foundation and strategic communication experts from The Steve Alexander Group.

About Climate Change Education Partnership (CCEP) Alliance
The Climate Change Education Partnership (CCEP) Alliance is a network of six multi-institutional projects funded by the National Science Foundation. The mission of the CCEP Alliance is to advance exemplary climate change education through research and partnerships. The Alliance Office, located at the University of Rhode Island Graduate School of Oceanography, facilitates communication among the CCEP projects, enables and nurtures cross-project coordination and collaboration, and supports the dissemination of Alliance resources. The CCEP Alliance Office also fosters communication with the larger climate change education community. For more information about CCEP, visit

About Climate Education Partners
Climate Education Partners is a collaboration of professors, scientists, researchers, educators, communications professionals, and community leaders who think San Diego is a special place and believe that future generations deserve to enjoy the San Diego we know and love, with its natural beauty and ideal weather. The partnership consists of representatives from the University of San Diego, The San Diego Foundation, CSU San Marcos, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, The Steve Alexander Group and UCSF. The group works with local civic, business, government, and education leaders to communicate the causes of climate change, its impacts in our region, and options for how to adapt to or prevent those impacts. For more information about this project, visit

About the University of San Diego
The University of San Diego is a Catholic institution of higher learning committed to teaching, the liberal arts, the formation of values and the creation of ethical leaders. Chartered in 1949, the school enrolls approximately 8,300 undergraduate and graduate full-time equivalent students. The University of San Diego has a long history of public service and is recognized as a Changemaker Campus by Ashoka, the global association of the world’s leading social entrepreneurs. The university’s eight academic divisions include the College of Arts and Sciences, The School of Business Administration, The Shiley-Marcos School of Engineering, The School of Law, The School of Leadership and Education Sciences, the Hahn School of Nursing and Health Sciences, The Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies, and the Division of Professional and Continuing Education. For more information about the University of San Diego, visit

About The San Diego Foundation
Founded in 1975, The San Diego Foundation’s purpose is to promote and increase effective and responsible charitable giving. The Foundation manages more than $660 million in assets, more than half of which reside in permanent endowment funds that extend the impact of today’s gifts to future generations. Since its inception, The Foundation has granted more than $908 million to the San Diego region’s nonprofit community. For additional information, please visit The San Diego Foundation at

About California State University San Marcos
California State University San Marcos is a new kind of CSU — fully engaged in the community, technologically sophisticated, and dedicated to teaching future generations through a relevant curriculum with a global perspective. CSUSM includes high quality, close instruction at three colleges and a school of nursing, a technology-rich campus, more than 80 student clubs and organizations, the Clarke Field House and an active Associated Students, Inc. and 304 rolling acres nestled into the foothills above the city of San Marcos, and a short distance to the beaches of the Pacific Ocean and the Mexican border. For more information on California State University San Marcos, visit

About Scripps Institution of Oceanography
Scripps Institution of Oceanography is one of the oldest, largest, and most important centers for ocean and earth science research, education, and public service in the world. Research at Scripps Institution of Oceanography encompasses physical, chemical, biological, geological, and geophysical studies of the oceans and earth. For more information on Scripps Institution of Oceanography, visit

About The Steve Alexander Group
The Steve Alexander Group includes the talented professionals who bring decades of award-winning experience in creative strategic planning, strategic communications, board and leadership development, conflict resolution, collaborative problem solving and team-building, facilitation and mediation and media training and crisis communications. For more information on The Steve Alexander Group, visit

About UCSF
UCSF is the nation's leading university exclusively focused on health. Now celebrating the 150th anniversary of its founding as a medical college, UCSF is dedicated to transforming health worldwide through advanced biomedical research, graduate-level education in the life sciences and health professions, and excellence in patient care. It includes top-ranked graduate schools of dentistry, medicine, nursing and pharmacy; a graduate division with world-renowned programs in the biological sciences, a preeminent biomedical research enterprise and top-tier hospitals, UCSF Medical Center and UCSF Benioff Children's Hospitals. For more information on the University of California San Francisco, visit

This project is funded by National Science Foundation award DUE-1239797. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.


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.