New Course: What do we know about climate change?

Our Knowledge of Climate Change:
What do we know and how do we know it?


The College of Arts and Sciences is excited to offer three new online interdisciplinary courses in Summer 2021. Faculty from across the College have teamed up to create courses in which students will explore pressing intellectual questions from new perspectives.

In PHYS/PHIL 261, Our Knowledge of Climate Change: What do we know and how do we know it?, Chris Haufe, associate professor of philosophy, and Cyrus Taylor, Albert A. Michelson Professor in Physics, join forces to bring students a lesson about the very important intersection of philosophy and big science, illustrated by high energy physics, and then applied to climate science. Within climate science, the underlying dynamics of climate change pose an existential threat to our civilization, but there are also active and well organized efforts to derail the scientific process and to criticize the scientist.
“This is the class I’ve always dreamed of as a philosopher of science because it looks at a real world, social problem that has a purely philosophical dimension to it,” Haufe said.

To explore this problem, this course will look at the nature of scientific knowledge and the challenges of developing a robust scientific process resistant to fraud. The course will then use the framework of social epistemology to explore the history and current state of climate science. Students will understand the hierarchical models of climate science and the role of international coordination and its implications for policy. Additionally, students will explore the efforts to disrupt the scientific process, the public understanding of science and ultimately the process necessary for addressing climate change.

“This course is incredibly timely because of the rapid rise of the size and nature of scientific collaborations over the course of the last few decades,” Taylor explained.

“If I had taken this as a student it would’ve changed my life and it may even as a faculty member. This is a dream course.”
Students with questions should contact Dr. Haufe at or Dr. Taylor at


  • Summer 2021 courses will be viewable in SIS starting March 1
  • Students can begin adding courses to shopping carts on March 1
  • Graduate registration begins March 22
  • Undergraduate registration opens April 12
  • Non-degree and visiting students can register starting April 13

Visit or email for more information.


Photo credits, clockwise
“Peter Higgs visiting the CMS detector at CERN” by marc_buehler is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0
Kilimanjaro 2017 by Cyrus Taylor
“File:CMS Higgs-event.jpg” by Lucas Taylor / CERN is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0
Kilimanjaro 1984 by Cyrus Taylor