Across the country yesterday, college campuses opened up a dialogue on climate change as part of a National Teach-In. And for many schools, this meant opening up lecture halls as well.

studentsAt Seattle University, a 400-level engineering class (normally reserved for dedicated students in that major) spent the hour discussing effective energy solutions; lit majors, history professors, and everyone in between were invited to join. Later that afternoon, students in ECON 468 welcomed visitors for a lecture on the economics of carbon reduction and cap and trade. Elsewhere on the SU campus, students discussed the role of business in sustainability and the importance of "low-carbon" eating habits.

"Our primary mode of reaching a diverse set of students [was] to have the teach-in themes ’embedded’ in regular classrooms," said Jennifer Sorensen, the university’s science director and organizer for the event. Faculty members from varied disciplines were asked to devote part of their class time (whether that class be Intro to Geology or Federal Income Tax I) to discussing climate change as it relates to their field.

Students were a driving force behind the success of SU’s teach-in, Sorensen says. "The faculty are more responsive to student requests to discuss these themes in their classroom than they are to my collegial invitation to participate!"

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.

Other schools in the area also participated in the teach-in, including Bainbridge Graduate Institute and the many campuses of Washington State University and the University of Washington. At Lake Washington Technical College, Grace Lasker’s chemistry students spent class time learning about how greenhouse gases bind together and why they are so dangerous.

Three classes at the University of Washington, Bothell — like many across the country — opened with the "Solutions for the First 100 Days" webcast created especially for the teach-in. The 35-minute program covers a number of topics, ranging from politics to green jobs to the Presidential Climate Action Project, and features eco-notables like David Orr, Hunter Lovins, and Ray Anderson.

Participants in the National Teach-in are being encouraged to create video letters to their representatives about the need for climate change solutions. Here’s one from the national organizers in Portland, Ore.:

And another (shorter and cuter!) one from youth climate activists Billy Parish and Wahleah Johns, and their daughter Tohana:

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.