Climate Change and Lyme Disease: The Science and its Applications in Education

Date of Completion

Spring 4-26-2018

Thesis Advisor(s)

Dr. Lawrence Silbart, PhD, MPH; Dr. Mark Kohan, PhD

Honors Major

Environmental Science


Biodiversity | Curriculum and Instruction | Educational Methods | Environmental Education | Environmental Health | Environmental Health and Protection | Other Environmental Sciences | Science and Mathematics Education | Secondary Education | Secondary Education and Teaching | Sustainability


A steadily changing climate demands an equally active reframing of the way students engage with the topic within and beyond the classroom. One of the pivotal local impacts of climate change to be explored in the classroom is the increase in exposure to Lyme disease. The body of the paper includes both an analysis of the unique relationship between climate change and human exposure to Lyme disease, as well as a discussion of the strategies to be used in the classroom when teaching and communicating this dynamic topic. Part I focuses on the impacts of changes in temperature and precipitation patterns, and in biodiversity loss, as well as the limitations to those predictions, future projections, and disease mitigation strategies. Part II emphasizes the topic's applications in education, accompanied by a sample curricular unit aimed at investigating climate change, and a short educational video illustrating the relationship between climate change and Lyme disease. Taken together, the paper aims to provide a framework for climate change education reform, with an emphasis on the exploration of climate change and Lyme disease as a strategy for elucidating the topic, and inspiring student action beyond the classroom.