University of Dayton Chautauqua Course


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Chautauqua Course DAY-20


Climate Change: What Every Faculty Member Should Know


ROBERT J. BRECHA, Department of Physics, University of Dayton


Late May, 2015 in Dayton, OH                                                                                Apply: DAY


Note:  This course has course fee of $195 (in addition to the $100 application fee), which covers course-related expenses.  Optional reduced rate lodging will be available to early applicants. See also course DAY-19 on energy and sustainability which precedes this course.


We believe that the topic of Climate Change is of vital importance to everyone in our country.  An effective way to ensure a well-informed citizenry is through a knowledgeable faculty presenting material in appropriate courses.


The topic of climate change has been gaining increasing attention over the past several years.  How much do we really know about the climate, past and present?  What are the main causes of current changes to the earth's climate, and how do these changes compare to natural cycles and fluctuations?  Can we be confident that we understand enough to make projections about climate change into the future?  What are the options for mitigation, and what are the challenges and potential pitfalls of both inaction and action to mitigate climate change?  This course will be structured around the themes in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) periodic reports: Climate Science, Adaptation and Impacts, and Mitigation Strategies.


            We will learn about and discuss the latest evidence for anthropogenic climate change and address some of the arguments used by climate-change skeptics.  An understanding of the main driving forces behind current climate change, principally the combustion of fossil fuels, will be key to considering strategies for mitigating the consequences of climate change.  We will also discuss likely geographic and inter-generational distributions of climate change impacts, important for thinking about what kinds of actions we as a society are willing to take in the next few years.


For college teachers of: all disciplines.  Prerequisites: none.  Presentations will assume basic science, and will not assume specific topic information.



Tentative Costs for 2015

Application fee: $100

Course fee: $195 [Due in April 2015]

Optional campus lodging: $58 per person per night in a single



Dr. Brecha is Professor in the Physics Department and the Renewable and Clean Energy Program at the University of Dayton. His research training was in experimental and theoretical quantum optics; after joining the UD faculty in 1993, he focused on diode laser spectroscopy of molecular oxygen and, through visiting scientist appointments, on ultracold atom physics. Over the past several years, his growing interest in the issues of peak oil, climate change, and their broader societal and economic implications have led to a switch in research activity. Starting in 2006 he has been a visiting scientist at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) in Germany working with economists and natural scientists on models of the coupled energy, climate and economic systems. During the 2010-2011 academic year his work at PIK was partly supported by a Fulbright Fellowship. Dr Brecha has lectured widely on the subject of peak oil and climate change, and has been a co-presenter in several previous Chautauqua courses on these topics.   He also coordinates and helped develop the new Sustainability, Energy and Environment Minor at the University of Dayton.



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University of Dayton Chautauqua Course