Aerial photo of a hurricane

U-M Experts to Help Public Understand Hurricanes through Online Teach-Out

Written by Laurel Thomas, Michigan News

As Florida assesses the damage from Hurricane Irma, Texas continues to rebuild from Harvey and meteorologists keep their eyes on Jose, University of Michigan experts in weather events and their aftermath offer the public a new teach-out called “Hurricanes: What’s Next.”

The timely educational opportunity for learners across the globe will be led by Perry Samson, the Arthur F. Thurnau Professor Professor of Climate and Space Sciences and Engineering, professor of information and founder of the Weather Underground. It will address the basics of hurricanes, forecasting, monitoring, preparation, damage and response to the powerful storms.

“A Teach-Out now on ‘Hurricanes: What’s Next’ is timely given the impacts of hurricanes Harvey and Irma this year,” Samson said. “The approach is to present the facts in hurricane formation, forecasting, preparation and response, in the hope of generating a larger discussion on how to respond to natural disasters.

“While controversial, this is also an important time to discuss if or how a warming ocean may influence the frequency and intensity of tropical storms in the future.”

Others participating include Richard Rood, professor of climate and space sciences and engineering, and environment and sustainability; Chris Ruf, professor of climate and space sciences and engineering, and electrical engineering and computer science; Jeff Masters of Weather Underground; and U-M students.

They will address questions including:

  • What drives a hurricane?
  • How accurate are hurricane models?
  • How do authorities prepare for hurricanes and, when destructive events like hurricanes Harvey and Irma happen, how do we respond?
  • Is this hurricane season a fluke, or should we start planning for more/similar storms?
  • Teach-outs are short, just-in-time learning opportunities that allow people across the world to engage with experts on various topics of national and international interest.

They are modeled after the teach-ins of the 1960s, which physically brought people to campus for a short-term, intensive educational experience on a timely topic. Teach-outs take advantage of current technology to engage learners. Delivered online, faculty and staff from U-M offer information through videos and interactive discussions.

This teach-out will be the first offered on the Coursera online platform.

“Through the U-M Teach-Out series, we are reimagining public engagement in the information age and creating the compassionate public square for just-in-time knowledge sharing and the exchange of new ideas within a global learning community.” said James DeVaney, U-M associate vice provost for academic innovation.

“We invite the world to join U-M experts in a global discussion about hurricanes as we seek clearer understanding of the present, greater preparedness for the future and better ideas for individual, community and government action.”

DeVaney said the free teach-outs, open to anyone, are part of U-M’s commitment to public engagement and global knowledge creation and sharing.