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How We Respond

How We Respond will expand the discussion about responses to climate change that began with the What We Know initiative.| iStock

In 2018, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) launched How We Respond, a new communication initiative to highlight how communities are actively and effectively responding to climate change at the local, state and regional levels, and demonstrate the critical role of science and scientists in informing these activities. See the news story for more about the project kick-off. 

This effort builds most directly on two prior AAAS climate change communication activities:

  • The What We Know initiative (2013-2015) convened leading climate change scientists and communication researchers and practitioners to develop the What We Know report, a multimedia website and a media outreach campaign focused on the realities, risks and responses to climate change.
  • The inaugural cohort of AAAS Leshner Leadership Fellows in Public Engagement with Science (2016-2017) included researchers focused on engaging public audiences on climate change.

How We Respond will significantly expand the discussion about responses to climate change, focusing on how science supports communities’ work to assess and respond to the impacts of climate change, especially at the city to state level. The long-term goal of the How We Respond initiative is to help communities and decision-makers focus on solutions and take action on climate issues, grounded in both science and local needs.

Global and national policy-level discussions are only one way to consider solutions. This project highlights what is happening in local communities, including through public dialogue as communities and scientists work together to identify the impacts of climate change, consider and implement options for responding and encourage such collaboration in other communities.

Climate communication research has shown that people respond more favorably when climate change impacts are presented as personally relevant and solvable, rather than as scary and intractable. How We Respond will highlight tangible efforts to understand and respond to climate change, providing community leaders with compelling examples of how science and society are addressing the impacts of climate change. The project will also synthesize recent advances in climate science, communication and policy, and suggest opportunities for scientists and communities to collaborate effectively.

AAAS is a non-partisan organization that frequently convenes leading scientific experts and has communicated about climate change for many years.

How We Respond Advisory Committee

A committee of experts advises this initiative:

  • Kristin Baja, Urban Sustainability Directors Network
  • Dan Barry, AAAS State and Local Advocacy
  • Louise Bedsworth, California Governor’s Office of Planning and Research
  • Dominique Brossard, University of Wisconsin, Madison
  • Jeffrey Dukes, Purdue University
  • Taryn Finnessey, Colorado Water Conservation Board
  • Karen Florini, Climate Central
  • Howard Frumkin, Wellcome Trust
  • Katharine Hayhoe, Texas Tech University
  • Jessica Hellmann, University of Minnesota
  • Anthony Janetos, Boston University
  • Robert Kopp, Rutgers University
  • Dan Kreeger, Association of Climate Change Officers
  • Ezra Markowitz, University of Massachusetts Amherst
  • Alex Racelis, University of Texas Rio Grande Valley
  • Peter Rafle, Georgetown Climate Center
  • Margaret Hiza Redsteer, University of Washington - Bothell
  • David Titley, Pennsylvania State University
  • Beverly Wright, Deep South Center for Environmental Justice


AAAS thanks the Linden Trust for Conservation and Bob and Mary Litterman for their leadership in funding the How We Respond initiative. We are also grateful to Jerry Pausch, Jim McCarthy and Jean Taylor, along with many other individual donors, for their support.

For more information, please contact:

Emily Cloyd, Director, AAAS Center for Public Engagement with Science and Technology