The students in Katharine Hayhoe's climate science and policy class contributed ideas for the magazine's spread on the issue.
As one of the world's leading authorities on climate change, Katharine Hayhoe knows climate change is about more than just the long-term effects humans have on the planet.
It affects every day life, in every corner of the earth and in every profession, every business. The key is to find a way to communicate the importance of climate change beyond the scientific realm to the areas of human existence that it affects every day.
She's found an ally in one of the most unlikely places – Good Housekeeping magazine.
The publication, with an estimated 25 million circulation that offers tips and practices on improving everyday life, published a spread on climate change in its April issue. The idea came about through a connection with Hayhoe and her interdisciplinary graduate climate class in climate science and policy, which is taught each fall.
“It was a great experience for me to interact with Good Housekeeping and contribute to figuring out how their readership values and interests interacted with this issue,” said Hayhoe, who is the director of the Climate Science Center and an associate professor of political science at Texas Tech University. “Climate change isn't just a green, tree-hugger issue. We care about climate change because it affects many of the things we already care about. I loved working with Good Housekeeping because they know what they really care about.”
While on a visit to Lubbock, Hayhoe invited the editor of Good Housekeeping to speak to her class. During the visit, Hayhoe had the class break into groups and gave them the task of developing ideas for an issue of Good Housekeeping and what they would want the magazine to do or say about the subject of climate change, how it affects us as individuals and what we can do about it.
“The students came up with all kinds of out-of-the-box ideals during this brainstorming session,” Hayhoe said. “They talked about how climate change affects us here in Texas and made sure there were practical tips people could do. It was fun.”
Another Texas Tech connection helped it all come to fruition. Although the students' ideas did not go straight from the classroom to the magazine's pages, they did provide the basis to start thinking about the April issue. To narrow the focus of the magazine's coverage, Hayhoe worked with editor Tula Karras, a Lubbock native whose grandfather, William P. Tucker, taught political science at Texas Tech.
Hayhoe also helped Karras connect with experts across the country who could provide accurate information regarding what cites are doing to prepare for climate change and how individual actions can help us save money and cut our carbon footprint.
“It's one thing to talk about how the media could or should communicate climate change,” said Nicole Lee, one of the students in the class. “It's quite another to actually have the editor-in-chief of Good Housekeeping in your class and be able to implement those ideas.”
It also gave Hayhoe an idea to do a similar project with the class every fall, the hope being that the reach of climate change education expands beyond the technical publications like National Geographic or Popular Science and finds its way into more mainstream media. That is one of the areas the Climate Science Center is working to bring the issue out of the scientific realm and into everyday life.
One thing I loved about the class, and this activity in particular, was that it helped us go beyond the science,” Lee said, “and think about how climate change impacts the things people really care about, like their family, health and finances.