Environmental Solutions Initiative

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American Perceptions of Climate Change (IAP Workshop)
Jan/27 Thu 01:00PM–02:30PM

Over 50% of Americans are worried about climate change – but why is the rest of the country not? Do they just not get it? Are they duped by misinformation and corporate propaganda? What role does the media play? And how do we get more Americans to support taking action on climate change?

Join this workshop on public perceptions, engagement, and communications in America today.

Reviewing American Perceptions on Climate Change
Thurs. Jan 27, 1:00 - 2:30 PM, Virtual

Led by Laur Hesse Fisher, Program Director, MIT Environmental Solutions Initiative

The first session will review academic literature and real-world projects on understanding and engaging with Americans across the political spectrum on the topic of climate change. Weaving presentation and discussion, it will draw upon learnings from the fields of political science, psychology, sociology, and communications to unpack how – and why – Americans think the way they do about climate change, what more we need to know, and what more we need to do. The session will also review:

  • How Americans’ understanding of climate change it is (and is not) evolving
  • Deniers, skeptics, alarmists – is there room for nuance?
  • Republicans and climate change: policy, politics & activism
  • Climate journalism in today’s media environment
  • High school climate change education in the U.S.
  • Lab- and field-tested strategies for climate change engagement and communications


**Please note that the second day of this workshop has been cancelled. The first day will run as planned.** 

IAP Course: Eyes in the Sky
Jan/18 Tue 10:00AM–02:30PM
Jan/19 Wed 08:00AM–04:00PM
Jan/20 Thu 08:00AM–04:00PM
Jan/21 Fri 09:00AM
Jan/24 Mon 10:00AM–02:00PM

Hands-on Workshop for using UAVs in mapping the built environment and Climate Change risk assessment (Non-credit)

Enrollment Limit: 15 students

Complete this online form to sign up

Drones are providing us with new ways to map, monitor, and measure our changing landscape. Advances in digital image processing enable one to go from flying a drone to working with accurate maps and 3D models in a matter of hours. In this workshop, students will learn how to use drones and other geospatial technologies to help them better understand our changing environment. Upon completion of this workshop, students will have theoretical and applied knowledge that will aid them to use UAVs in various applications.

In this workshop, students will gain hands-on experience with drone vehicles, sensors, image processing software and applications. With the proliferation of drones there are increasing opportunities to use drones for scientific remote sensing data acquisition and applications. This workshop focuses on understanding the fundamentals behind acquiring imagery data with drone-based cameras (e.g. multi-spectral and thermal) and processing the data for various applications.

Learning outcomes

• Understand how to use drones as a platform to acquire data
• Understand components and functions of a drone system, DJI as the main platform
• Understand the photogrammetric principles of drone-based image acquisition and processing in Drone Deploy platform
• Understand basic flight planning and data acquisition with a drone
• Develop insight into drone operation and basic maneuvering.
• Understand how to operate various drone-based sensors, RGB camera, LiDar, and Thermal.
• Develop the ability to process drone-derived raw data imagery (RGB camera, Multispectral, Thermal, LiDAR) to various applications.
• Gain oversight of the complete mission pipe-line, from planning to final product.
• Learn to present research proposals and complete a project as a team member


Students will work in teams of 3-5 students to apply basic flight planning and flight procedures to a mapping problem. Each team will work with a qualified flying instructor during the data collection process to develop a flight checklist, flight plan, GCP plan and produce an 2D orthomosaic and 3D model from UAV data using drone deploy platform. Each team will present the processing output at the end of the workshop and key insights on using UAVs in urban mapping and climate change problems.


• Students will not be required to acquire their own data as the data will be acquired by the qualified drone instructors with students participating in the data collection.
• This course will not lead directly to certification of students for operating a drone.
• The course is not about flying drones, but about understanding how to acquire and process remote sensing data.

Complete this online form to sign up

Recommended Reading

Jensen, John R, 2017. Drone Aerial Photography and Videography: Data Collection and Image Interpretation. Amazon Kindle store or Apple iBooks store. NOTE: The Amazon Kindle store version is recommended as it can be viewed on either the Microsoft Windows or the Apple operating systems.

Course Instructors: Norhan Bayomi, Postdoctoral Fellow, Building Technology Program, MIT Environmental Solutions Initiative; Prof. John E. Fernandez, Director of the Urban Metabolism Group (Building Technology Program), Director of MIT Environmental Solutions Initiative.

Co-Instructor: Marcela Angel, Research Associate, MIT Environmental Solutions Initiative.


Tuesday, January 18:

  • Lecture: Introduction to UAVs Platform and sensing applications (10:00 to 11:00 am)
  • Lecture: UAVs application in the Built Environment - Thermal Imaging (11:30 to 12:30 pm)
  • Tutorial: Class Structure and field study regulations (1:30 to 2:30 pm)

Wednesday, January 19

  • Drone Operations 101 (8:00 to 11:00 am Class session A)
  • Basic Flight Training (12-1pm Class session B)
  • Field Training Session (1 – 4 pm)

Thursday, January 20

  • Lecture: UAVs application in Climate Change Risk Assessment (8:00 to 9:00 am)
  • Drone Data Processing Mapping & Modelling (9:30 to 12:30)
  • Field Training Session (1 – 4 pm)

Friday, January 21

  • Lecture: UAVs Data Type and Processing Platforms (9:00 to 10:00 am)
  • Field Training: Hands on Data Collection with drones in Briggs Field

Monday, January 24

  • Projects Presentation (10-1)
  • Final Tips (1-2 pm)
IAP Course: Teaching with Sustainability
Jan/05 Wed 10:00AM–12:00PM
Jan/12 Wed 10:00AM–12:00PM
Jan/19 Wed 10:00AM–12:00PM
Jan/26 Wed 10:00AM–12:00PM

Enrollment: Limited: Advance sign-up required. 

Attendance: Participants must attend all sessions.

Prereq: None.

This non-credit class will provide participants with the knowledge and skills to infuse their lessons and practices with sustainability. The class will focus on identifying goals for students and actions to get there, what it means to teach sustainably, and the opportunity to plan for future lessons using sustainability as a guide. In addition, participants will learn sustainable pedagogical practices that increase student engagement, and ultimately learning, in their classes.

Sustainability education is an emergent field focused on solving complex wicked problems that are interconnected throughout social, environmental, economic and health fields. In working to address these inherently complex and wicked sustainability problems scholars have identified the need to perturb existing education systems, advocating for education of a different kind which will create a more sustainability literate population. To achieve the lasting impact necessary for true change to occur sustainability needs to be holistically integrated throughout an academic program leveraging the knowledge of instructors to build this complex connection. This class will help participants think through what sustainability means in their area of expertise, while practicing this in terms of best teaching practices.

Anyone is welcome to participate, however, the class will be tailored to individuals who are currently teaching (i.e. graduate students, postdocs, faculty, lecturers) or those who may be teaching in the future.

Signup Deadline: December 22. E-mail the instructors to sign up.


  • Liz Potter-Nelson, Sustainability Education Postdoctoral Associate at ESI, epottern@mit.edu
  • Sarah Meyers, Education Program Manager at ESI, smeyers@mit.edu


4, 2-hour sessions, from 10am-noon

  • Wednesday, January 5th
  • Wednesday, January 12th
  • Wednesday, January 19th
  • Wednesday, January 26th