Hi! I'm Michaela Zint, a faculty member at the University of Michigan, where I teach and conduct research on environmental education and communication. I'm so pleased to welcome you to this course Act on Climate - Steps to Individual, Community and Political Action. To the best of my knowledge, this course is unique, not only because the topic it focuses on, but because the University of Michigan students and I developed it collaboratively for you. You will meet these students throughout the course. Let me tell you more about why we decided to develop this particular course. You may already know that we have reached a critical point in the history of our planet. We have surpassed 400 parts per million of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere, a dangerous milestone that climate scientists from around the world have warned us is unsustainable. In addition, we are up against powerful forces that dismiss these threats as well as the opportunities presented by climate change, distract us from the urgency of the issue, and discourage us from taking actions, whether these are actions to slow climate change or to adjust to the impacts of climate change is already having on our planet. Given the current political context in this country, it appears unlikely there will be much action on climate change by the federal government. However, even if those circumstances were different, the challenges posed by climate change are such that we simply cannot rely on action by the federal government alone. This miniature sculpture was created by the Spanish street artist Isaac Cordal to represent the general dysfunction and disorder of the political system. Many, however, have dubbed this piece "politicians discussing global warming". This is because of the stark image this picture presents of politicians endlessly negotiating while the impacts of climate change, such as the literal rising of the sea, swallows them whole. In a 2012 interview, Cordal shared that his artwork refers to the collective inertia that leads us to think that our small actions cannot change anything. But believe that every small action can contribute to big change. Many small changes can bring back social attitudes that manipulate the global inertia, and turn it into something positive. Consistent with the spirit of Cordal's art, this class is intended to help bring about change, both small and big, so that collectively we can have an influence. Throughout the course, we will introduce you to what you can do to act on climate change, how you can engage in these actions and the benefit of these actions. You should also know that we take a science based approach but not in the way you might think. If you want to learn more about the natural science of climate change, there are many other courses you can complete, including through Coursera. Rather than focusing on climate science, we will focus mostly on the behavioral sciences and specific social change theories, so you can learn how to change your own behaviors as well as the behaviors of others in your community and even your country. As mentioned earlier, University of Michigan students and I, developed this course collaboratively, and they will be the ones primarily guiding you throughout this journey over the next few weeks. Throughout the course, you will encounter interviews led by our students with academic experts and leaders from the University of Michigan and beyond. We found that what these experts had to share extremely interesting, valuable and inspirational. If you are an individual concerned about climate change and eager to contribute to change, we are confident you will agree. Let's break up this conversation for just a minute and tell us. We asked you this question to signal that we designed this course for individuals who already care about climate change and are motivated to do something about it. You may be wondering why we are focusing on individuals like yourself, particularly because so many efforts appear focused on convincing skeptics that climate change is occurring, and that it is occurring as a result of anthropogenic or human activities. The reason we are focusing on those of you who are already concerned about climate change and want to act is because research tells us that it will be you, motivated innovators and adopters who will actually make a difference in bringing about change. The research I'm referring to is the Theory of Diffusion of Social Innovation based on the work of sociologist, Everett Rogers. As shown in this diagram, this theory and associated research tells us that the spread of new ideas and practices follows an S shape. Early adopters play a critical role in societal change because they model and promote ideas for others, eventually convincing late adopters to follow their leads. In other words, the actions that you, as an early adopter will engage in, will influence your friends, your family, colleagues and so on. Mahatma Gandhi also captured this idea when he said, "Be the change that you wish to see in the world". The more of us that model taking action on climate change, the more we will influence those around us, ultimately resulting in societal change. This is also why throughout this course, we will encourage you to share what you have done with others in your network. In addition, we will ask you to share your experiences and recommendations that you think may help other course participants, so we can all learn from each other. With regards to those of you joining us from around the world, we are relying on you especially. While we know a lot about what might be possible here in the US, we are counting on you to offer diverse perspectives on what actions on climate change might work in your country. Let me now turn to some more course logistics and content. After this introductory week, there are four theme-based weeks on food, energy, transportation and the built environment, because each of these areas impacts and is in return impacted by climate change. Next, there is a week focused on helping you prepare a personal climate action plan, as well as a concluding module, with advice on how to maintain the momentum you have built throughout this seven-week course. As we have already suggested, the course is designed based on insights from the social sciences, such as the need for helping individuals overcome the real and perceived barriers they face to acting on climate change. For example, we do this by introducing you to different actions you can take we know can make a difference, providing you with specific guidance for how you can engage in those actions and encouraging you to collaborate with others. In addition, we introduce you to change theories from psychology, sociology, anthropology, political science and other social sciences. You will learn how to apply these theories to bring about change in yourself and your community including through political action. Before closing, I want to acknowledge that climate change can be a polarizing issue. For decades, Americans from across the political spectrum have worked together to support and protect the environment, and we hope to foster that same spirit through this course. Once again, we're so glad you have decided to join us. We need people like you to come together with the rest of us to take action on climate change.