Climate Literacy Outreach

Helping individuals, families, and communities make better decisions for a sustainable future...

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Climate Literacy Outreach is a Leadership goal in the Cornell Climate Action Plan (CAP).

Participate actively in climate literacy outreach to ensure that the broader community receives Cornell’s assistance in making critical decisions for a sustainable future.

Goal: As the 2013 IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) report makes clear, the option of “business-as-usual” is no longer acceptable. Continued growth in greenhouse gases poses a clear and present danger to the Cornell community, our nation, and the world. The climate change challenge is understood by some but not all, and a sense of urgency needs to be conveyed in order to motivate long-term behavior change.

As New York’s land grant university, Cornell and the Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) system provide research-based education, resources, and tools to help individuals, families, and communities make better decisions to mitigate and adapt to climate change. Current education and outreach efforts from the university for stakeholders in New York and beyond occur through several interdisciplinary efforts:

1) The Cornell Institute for Climate Change and Agriculture (CICCA) fosters partnerships, engages stakeholders, and delivers trusted, research-based climate information and tools to farmers, natural resource managers, and other decision-makers. CICCA empowers farmers and their communities to respond to increasing climate variability and change, take advantage of opportunities, and lessen their impacts on the climate. Our goal is to build the capacity to grow and strengthen agriculture in the face of a changing climate. The institute has organized multiple events to provide information to the public about climate change and agriculture, at events such as Empire Farm Days, the NYS Ag Society meeting, and Stone Barns Conference. It has also recently launched a new Climate Smart Farming Program and extension team, to provide specific information on climate change mitigation and adaption to New York's farmers and communities. 

Making a difference on campus and information about climate change minor and differences
Making a difference on campus and information about climate change minor and differences
2) Cornell’s Climate Change Program Work Team (PWT) is comprised of Cornell faculty, staff, CCE educators and stakeholders from around New York State who are working to share information on climate change research and funding opportunities, develop new educational materials and outreach programs for the public, and incorporate climate change into existing outreach programs, including train the trainer efforts. Faculty and CCE educators regularly provide climate change presentations to community groups and key stakeholders. Three concrete examples are:
  • USDA-funded Animal Agriculture and Climate Change Program. This is a national extension project, with the Northeast region led by Cornell University. An online train-the-trainer course on climate change was developed for extension educators, who can then provide information to livestock producers on issues such as heat stress in dairy and extreme weather events:
  • Climate change training provided to New York State Master Gardener Volunteer (MGV) Programs through Cornell Cooperative extension. The NYS Master Gardener Volunteer Coordinator organized an October 2013 conference for CCE educators and Master Gardener Volunteers on “Gardening in a Changing Climate.” Additional materials will be developed to help support MGVs as they work to educate New York’s gardeners about climate change (
  • The Cornell Climate Change Website provides a comprehensive, interdisciplinary gateway to climate change initiatives, research, student courses and organizations, events, and public engagement at Cornell. The site provides specific tools and resources that have been developed for farmers, natural resource managers, communities, youth educators, and the general public to understand the fundamentals of climate change science. The website also provides an interactive forum for the public to ask relevant questions about climate change science or its effects in the Northeast, and a “what’s with the weather” explanation of recent extreme weather events.

3) The Northeast Regional Climate Center (NRCC) at Cornell acquires and disseminated accurate, up-to-date climate data and information for the 12-state Northeast Region under contract from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The NRCC staff often provide long term climate change for the public and stakeholders and provides frequent climate change presentations in the Northeast. The NRCC and other partners have been working to develop a new Climate Change Science Clearinghouse, funded by the New York State Energy Research and Development Agency (NYSERDA).

4) The David R. Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future works to discover and implement sustainable solutions to world needs for reliable energy, a resilient environment, and responsible economic development. There are 426 Faculty Fellows, many of whom are doing research on climate change. ACSF organizes multiple public outreach events, and supports efforts to extend research out to the public and policy makers.

The long-term goal of all of these outreach efforts is to increase understanding of climate change science and impacts, leading to behavior change to prepare for climate change and to reduce the ultimate magnitude of the problem by reducing greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs). A short- to medium-term goal is that Cornell faculty and staff will incorporate climate change data and concepts into existing outreach programs and develop new Best Management Practices and tools to help farmers, gardeners, communities, and other stakeholders make informed decisions.

Next Steps

  • Continue to provide research-based climate change tools and resources through the website.
  • Provide training and resources for CCE Educators to educate New Yorkers, in order to extend the scope of the outreach effort.
  • Launch of the Climate Change Science Clearinghouse by the Northeast Regional Climate Center and other partners.
  • Develop the Climate Smart Farming Project and Extension Team, through the Cornell Institute of Climate Change and Agriculture and Northeast Regional Climate Center, to provide Best Management Practices and Tools for climate change resiliency and mitigation for farms and communities in the Northeast.


Build partnerships with state and federal agencies, associations, and NGOs, through the Cornell Institute for Climate Change and Agriculture, Northeast Regional Climate Center, and the Atkinson Center.