Project Name: Climate and Urban Systems Partnership (CUSP)

Location: Philadelphia (lead), New York City, Pittsburgh, Washington, D.C.

Date Established: September 15, 2012

Who We Are: A network of informal educators, climate scientists, learning scientists and local partners across four cities, dedicated to improving local understanding of and engagement with climate change science.

Mission: CUSP aims to foster a network of climate-focused organizations to implement targeted, coordinated, and concentrated educational strategies that explore local climate impacts and community-level responses.

What We Do:

  • Unite local organizations committed to addressing the impacts of climate change into an Urban Learning Network, with reinforcing goals, messages and language
  • Use latest climate science and learning science research to inform program development
  • Connect urban residents’ personal interests to larger city systems impacted by climate change, and provide residents opportunities to explore city-wide responses
  • Deliver programs that are targeted (aimed at specific audiences), coordinated (presenting consistent and clear information about the science of climate change), and concentrated (delivered many times, through many programs)
  • Test the hypothesis that when people encounter the same science content in multiple settings, from multiple points of view, they are more likely to understand and remember important concepts

What We Offer:

  • A Community of Practice for local organizations, including trainings on best practices of climate communication
  • Provide local organizations with current climate science impacting their city, and latest learning science research
  • Opportunity for city residents to explore local impacts of climate change in every day settings, at neighborhood centers, at schools, online, and at city festivals.
  • Opportunity for city residents to engage with local organizations in community-level responses to climate change

Example Offerings:

  • Workshops for professionals working in climate-focused organizations
  • Hands-on, portable climate-themed kits
  • Online interactive map of city-wide impacts and responses
  • Workshops for middle school students on the science of climate solutions
  • Family-friendly shows on the science of climate solutions
  • Neighborhood-focused communications on climate impacts and responses

Audience: Communities, families, adults, youth grades 6-12

Collaborators/Partners: informal and formal educators, community-based organizations, public sector agencies, service providers, city government

Whom to Contact: Rachel Valletta, Ph.D., Project Director – 

Name & Affiliations of Principal Investigators, Co-Principal Investigators:


Karen Elinich, Ph.D., The Franklin Institute


Kevin Crowley, Ph.D., University of Pittsburgh

Radley Horton, Ph.D., Columbia University

Key Project Partners: The Franklin Institute, the Center for Climate Systems Research at Columbia University, the University of Pittsburgh Center for Learning in Out of School Environments (UPCLOSE), Carnegie Museum of Natural History, New York Hall of Science, National Geographic Society