Adding a Human Element

April 17, 2014

At MIT, engineering students are taught to ask the tough questions. We are encouraged to use math and science principles to tackle the world’s largest problems, pushed to dive into everything from cancer research to global health crises to climate change. Since coming to the institute in 2010, I have been inspired by my peers and their seemingly never-ending drive to make the world a better place. But in almost four years of studying here, there was always a feeling I could not get rid of. I felt that I was missing something crucial from my studies. It wasn’t until I joined the NECAP team last September that I figured it out. While I had been learning the scientific reasons behind climate change and its effects on our planet, I was missing the human element of this global issue. It’s hard to grasp the full threat of climate change until you’ve heard real people speak about it from their own experience. That’s what NECAP has provided me, a human face to add to my scientific understanding of climate change. In the last few months, I’ve listened to countless interviews and have witnessed several role-playing workshops, watching as real people come together to discuss the risk of climate change and how it is affecting their town. In listening to these residents tell their story, I’ve been able to complement my engineering and science education with the human element that is so often overlooked. It’s been incredibly valuable for me as a student, to bring a human voice to the numbers and figures I’d grown familiar to in the last few years.

-Paula Gonzalez, Undergraduate Research Assistant