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News & Events for the Smith College Community
Sustainability May 28, 2019

Smith Reads: A New Lens on Climate Change

Book cover "Climate Change Debate"
As the campus community prepares for a year-long examination of climate change, the 2019 Smith Reads book selection offers an important framing tool for exploring the issue.

Andrew J. Hoffman’s How Culture Shapes the Climate Change Debate was chosen to “help the Smith community start and sustain inquiry and action on this complex topic,” says Jane Stangl, dean of the first-year class, who coordinates the Smith Reads experience for new students.

Hoffman’s book—which entering Smith students will read over the summer—interprets climate science through a social scientist’s lens, introducing the idea that cognitive filters and cultural identity are the foundation for beliefs about climate change.

Hoffman—who is Holcim (US) Professor of Sustainable Enterprise at the University of Michigan—will speak at Smith on Tuesday, Sept. 3, at 4:30 p.m. in John M. Greene Hall. His talk is open to the public at no charge.

Hoffman posits that there is no scientific debate over data and models; rather, disagreements about climate change are born out of deeply held beliefs bolstered by threatened economic and ideological interests.

In addition to galvanizing Smith’s themed year on climate change, this year’s Smith Reads selection aligns with the college’s strategic goal to engage the community in addressing complex, urgent problems, Stangl says.

“As a liberal arts institution, Smith emphasizes the importance of critically engaging with the world around us,” she notes. “This text will help us reach far more of the community than the entering class.”

The goal of the college’s Year on Climate Change is to engage the campus community in a series of programs focused on the “issues and inequities of climate change.”