By contributor Aislinn Cottell

The Awareness of Climate Change through Education and Research group (ACER), is hosting their 5th annual symposia on the VIU campus this month, and would like to encourage all students and faculty to attend. news02_aceroptionalphoto

The symposia will begin at 9 am on Saturday, October 1, and be hosted in bldg. 355, rm.203 and 211. Attendance is free; however, they ask that anyone interested please register in advance by emailing <ACER@viu.ca>.

Presentations will be held in the morning by Tom Pederson, former Executive Director of the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions (PICS), and Rob Laurence, Environmental Planner for the City of Nanaimo. Their talks will focus on the social-economic impacts of climate change, as well as public policy initiatives and methods for promoting sustainability through all levels of government. Following a free lunch in the afternoon, there will be a panel discussion as well as several interactive demonstrations, including Marine Acidification, the Greenhouse Effect, Computer-based Visualizations, and Evidence-based Decision Making.

For those unfamiliar with ACER, the group was founded ten years ago by a group of students from the chemistry club, who were inspired by a question posed to them on a final exam. The question, however, wasn’t just a mere calculation, but a far more sweeping inquiry: “what can we as individuals do to effect change on the issue of climate change?”

Their answer? Create ACER, a group dedicated to combating these effects through education and research as their name suggests. Chemistry Professor and Co-Director of the Applied Environmental Research Lab (AERL) Erik Krogh became their first faculty advisor, and today shares those duties with Jeff Lewis, Faculty of the Geography Department and Climatology Specialist. They have also expanded to include students and staff of all disciplines—from chemistry and geography, to psychology and creative writing.

ACER carries out the educational aspect of their mission largely through presentations and demonstrations to high schools; since its inception, ACER members have presented to an estimated 15,000 students across BC, as well as to various community groups and organizations.

“It’s been a very successful model for us,” says Krogh. The group has developed several different presentations they show to groups of different backgrounds, with topics ranging from the science of climate change the health effects and to the socio-economic impacts of climate change as well.

“Depending on where the [presenting] student’s interests may be, we can match them up with a presentation that fits their interests.”

Krogh says these presentations provide a valuable experience for their members, as they help to develop many “soft skills” that can later be utilized when applying for positions, or working in public relations.

ACER also makes an effort to keep themselves up-to-date on the newest research and developments in the world of climate change, and works to promote an inter-disciplinary approach to the problems it poses. Krogh says, “It’s a lot easier to care about something when you understand it a bit more.”

Any students or faculty who are interested in having ACER present in their class, or getting involved with the group themselves, are more than welcome to contact <ACER@viu. ca> for more information.

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