Weaving Strands of Knowledge: Connecting Culture and Science to Climate Change

Greg DeFrancis

Greg DeFrancis

Greg DeFrancis, M.A., Associate Director and the Director of Education, Montshire Museum of Science, Norwich, Vermont, USA.

Greg's personal statement: I am most interested in exploring and developing novel approaches to engage learners in science. At the Montshire we do this through hands-on exhibits, family and adult programs, our work with students and teachers, and by developing curriculum and science activities for both classroom and out-of-school environments. The Weaving Strands of Knowledge project allows us to investigate the role of narrative in engaging people in the science of climate change.

Helping learners connect to their natural environment has always been part of my work. Although we have had a number of projects focused on climate science and climate change education, the Weaving Strands project is the first time we are engaging different audiences in exploring and discussing their perceptions on climate change through the collection of personal narratives. Combining the personal stories of members of the public who spend much of their lives outside—farmers, hikers, ski area workers, and loggers among others—with the scientific data collected over the past three decades on the Earth’s changing climate may prove to be a powerful way to engage all members of society in this vitally important issue demanding urgent action. 

As the U.S. project coordinator for Weaving Strands of Knowledge, I am responsible for seeing all aspects of are successfully carried out. Working with colleagues and students both here in New England and on the other side of the world, although adding plenty of logistical challenges, shines a bright spotlight on the fact that our home planet is truly one, large, complex system. Climate change is already impacting all our lives and communities, and I am excited to be using our work at the Museum to engage the public, here and in Bhutan, in the discussions needed to help move us all toward a more environmentally sustainable global community.  

Prior to my work at the Montshire, I was a classroom teacher in Vermont and Massachusetts and worked with the National Marine Fisheries Service in Alaska. My undergraduate degree is in Fisheries Biology at University of Vermont and my graduate work was in Education at Tufts University. I entered the science education field through an apprenticeship at Shady Hill School in Cambridge, MA. Outside of work, I can be found in the mountains biking, hiking, running and cross country skiing and coaching.