This spring, the University of Colorado's Theater and Dance department is joining forces with Environmental Science to offer an upper-division course, Inside the Greenhouse: Using Media to Communicate Positive Solutions for Climate Change.

The interdisciplinary course will combine assistant professor Beth Osnes's narrative theory with the science, politics and policy of climate change, taught by assistant professor Max Boykoff.

"Hopefully we will inspire students to think about creative and engaging ways to translate these complex issues to the public," Boykoff said. "Those sorts of efforts are what can lead to more sustained and long-lasting successes on these key challenges.
Beth Osnes, left with white wig, leads a chant while parade members march from the Boulder Public Library in the Mothers Acting Up Parade in 2006.
Beth Osnes, left with white wig, leads a chant while parade members march from the Boulder Public Library in the Mothers Acting Up Parade in 2006. (Cliff Grassmick)
"

The class will produce an educational and entertaining television show that Boykoff said he hopes will air after the class ends.

Osnes said she met Boykoff at a brainstorming session between "the arts and sciences" on the CU campus. Osnes is an activist, co-founder of Mothers Acting Up, and former co-host of a local show about advocating change -- so when Boykoff told her he wanted to produce a TV show about global warming, she was immediately interested.

"This issue, to me, is the most pertinent and it's up for us now as a human race," Osnes said.

Osnes said she's hoping the students will be inspired by their own creativity, each other and by guest speaker Tim Kring, writer and producer of the television shows "Heros" and "Crossing Jordan."

"It's going to be a really lovely experience to see creative students coming together with those more scientific in orientation," Osnes said. "They're coming together to communicate the real human message about what we know about climate change and some of the solutions."

The class is one of two Gamm Interdisciplinary Courses this spring -- an annual award that Boykoff said is largely responsible for funding the class.

"This was an idea that we've had kind of brewing but it was the Gordan Gamm fund that's enabled us to move forward," Boykoff said.

Elizabeth Lock, of CU Communications, said funding an interdisciplinary course is expensive since more than one instructor is being paid.

The 4000-level class is accepting 40 students from any department, but spots are filling up fast. As of Wednesday afternoon, there was only one spot available, according to CU's course search.

"I hope students will make these connections and they'll be transferred to ongoing challenges they choose to take up," Boykoff said.