MCCS 0509: Applied Climate Change: Gaining Practical Skills for Climate Change Adaptation

This course provides an overview of the knowledge, tools and resources needed to become more effective leaders and managers in adapting to climate change. During the two-week intensive session, participants will develop practical skills through lectures, step-by-step approaches, case studies, field assignments, study tours, hands-on activities and on-site observation. A field study tour of the Virginia Region provides an opportunity for viewing real-life climate change adaptation measures for water, biodiversity and the agricultural, tourism and wine industries.

As part of the course, each participant will complete, and carry away, a climate change impacts and adaptation study for their own region of geographic interest that will include: how the climate has changed in the past; how the climate is projected to change in the future; how these changes have/will impact the region; and how best to adapt to these anticipated impacts. Participants should have a working knowledge of computers especially MS Excel spreadsheet software.

The course consists of three main components:

  • Climate change basics: science and modeling; mitigation measures; impact assessment; adaptation strategies; international policy
  • Climate change tools: data analysis; scenarios of future climate change; measuring your carbon footprint;  identifying cost-effective adaptation options
  • Climate change impacts: biodiversity, agriculture, tourism, wine


By the end of the course, students will take home practical skills in:

  • following the steps assigned by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change for conducting a climate change impact assessment;
  • accessing, quality controlling, and statistically analyzing climate data;
  • preparing scenarios of future climate change through ensemble and validation techniques;
  • establishing a Smithsonian Institution Biodiversity Monitoring Plot for use in tracking the impacts of climate change;
  • negotiating international environmental agreements; and
  • developing climate change adaptation options.

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The next offering of this course has not yet been confirmed.


Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal, Virginia

Application Procedure

Applications are not currently being accepted.

Course Costs

The total cost for this course is $3,478 (Course fee of $2100 + Housing and Dining Package of $1,378). Those applying as citizens of “less-developed” nations qualify for a reduced course fee of $1200, making the total cost including housing (shared double room) and dining package $2578. Click HERE to check if your country of citizenship qualifies you for the reduced course fee. Your total course payment includes:

  • Registration fees
  • Instruction, course manual, textbooks and other course materials
  • Pick-up and drop-off at Dulles International airport, and transportation for course activities
  • Daily full-service buffet at the SMSC Dining Commons – Dining begins with dinner on the Sunday before the course begins and ends with brunch on the Saturday after the course ends.
  • Housing at the SMSC Residential Facility, including a shared room with bathroom (single rooms available at extra cost) – Lodging begins Sunday, the day before the course begins, and checkout is on the Saturday after the course ends.


Scholarships are available on a competitive basis for eligible international applicants. Click HERE for more information on scholarships.


Local participants may elect to stay off campus, waive the housing and dining package, and commute to this course. Meals in the Dining Commons can be purchased individually as needed.

For more information