Corals Team

Class 6 - Corals Group Photo

    • Claire Hood
    • Taylor Johnson
    • Mark Gibson
    • Murthy Kantimahanthi
    • Bentley Johnson
    • Jessie Lowry


  • Project Partner: Nikhil Advani, World Wildlife Fund, and Cecy Castillo, University of Belize
  • Board Advisor: Shaun Martin

Class 6 - Corals


The EWCL Climate Team (EWCL/CT) began working with WWF to advance the Climate Crowd, a new project established to explore and disseminate the valuable stories of climate change and responses to its impacts among the world’s disparate and often unheard communities. Five project objectives were established for the EWCL/CT: 1) train volunteers in Belize to collect data for Climate Crowd; 2) collect initial data with newly trained volunteers and submit this data via; 3) test and make recommendations to refine the survey instrument with volunteers in Belize; 4) provide advice for ongoing data collection through the University of Belize and other groups; and 5) document the training and data collection for training purposes and promotion of Climate Crowd. In this way, the EWCL/CT sought to fill critical knowledge gaps for additional program development, while also contributing to a global dataset on how communities are responding to climate change.


A training workshop for Climate Crowd researchers was held August 11 and 12, 2016 at the University of Belize (UB) in Belmopan, Belize. Hosting the workshop at UB led to a diverse group of participants, including students, faculty, and NGO staff. The first day of the training was a classroom-based workshop where participants were introduced to the Climate Crowd project and the basics of key informant interviewing. The second day of the training was a field day in Hopkins, a coastal village located about an hour from Belmopan.

Several methods were used to plan, implement, and evaluate the Climate Crowd training workshop. EWCL/CT consulted experts in qualitative research, employed several teaching methods in training the attendees, and evaluated the project frequently to refine and improve the model. In general, the workshop was very effective in teaching key informant interviewing related to weather and climate change, and received highly positive reviews from participants.

Data Collection
Data on climate change perceptions, impacts, and adaptations were gathered by participants during the field component of the Climate Crowd training workshop. The village proved to be an interesting location to conduct interviews for two reasons. First, Hopkins is currently undergoing a transition away from fishing towards tourism. Second, the village experienced impacts from Hurricane Earl the week before, making interviews on climate change particularly timely. EWCL/CT developed partnerships in Belize to ensure the participants could collect data in a coastal community, incentivized students to participate, structured the data collection to allow for group discussion afterwards, and utilized a student-led teaching format to give the participants first-hand experience collecting qualitative data. The participants conducted eleven interviews through two one-hour data collection activities. Additionally, one participant conducted an additional interview with the village chairman who also was a farmer, fisherman, and entrepreneur. The 13 interviews conducted by the four participants and one project staff member indicate a wide-range of climate changes, impacts, and responses.

Climate Crowd Training Materials
EWCL/CT produced seven “tools” that a volunteer researcher may use to prepare, conduct, and submit the results of a key informant interview related to climate change perceptions, impacts, and adaptations. These tools are discussed in more detail in the Products section. As previously mentioned, the field day of the training included data collection activities to pilot the toolkit. During this time, two EWCL/CT members kept notes on how the volunteer researchers engaged with the toolkit and asked the researchers about the ease and use of the tools following interviews. Lastly, the data collection and data summary forms were reviewed to consider how the researchers used them.


Various digital materials were produced for the workshop that Climate Crowd could use to conduct future workshops. These materials include:

  • A volunteer researcher training guide, entitled How to Stand Out from The Crowd, to provide volunteers with a single document that provides background on Climate Crowd and presented the tools and guidance the volunteer researchers should use when conducting interviews.
  • An agenda for the two-day workshop detailing the training objectives, the modules, and exercises as well as the necessary preparation and materials for the training.
  • A PowerPoint presentation to guide the first day of the workshop and provide visual aids for the workshop’s introduction, training modules, and exercises. The main topics covered in the presentation were key informant interviewing, tips for beginners, and the training guide.
  • A detailed budget for a two-day workshop developed to ensure the appropriate funds and in-kind support were available.
  • Evaluation forms based on those used during expert-led social science training workshops and modified to fit the needs of this training. The evaluation forms included a pre- and post-training assessment of the participants’ understanding of climate change and qualitative research, evaluations of the participants’ satisfaction with the workshop and field day, and self-evaluations by the training leaders.

Data Collection
The participants conducted eleven interviews through two one-hour data collection activities. Additionally, one participant conducted an additional interview with the village chairman, who also was a farmer, fisherman, and entrepreneur. These interviews identified various possible climate changes, impacts, and adaptations. Interviewees reported experiencing changes in rainfall, increased occurrence of severe weather events, and changes in seasons. These changes have led to increased erosion, changes in crop yields, higher prices for food, and fewer fish caught. In response, community members have changed fishing and farming practices, moved homes farther from shore, and diversified livelihoods.

Climate Crowd Training Materials
This activity produced seven “tools” that a volunteer researcher may use to prepare, conduct, and submit the results of a key informant interview related to climate change perceptions, impacts, and adaptations. These tools are available in the training guide and are described as follows:

  • Central research questions based on Climate Crowd’s conceptual framework and the initial WWF data collection form;
  • Guidance on how to conduct key informant interviews related to climate change, including the PEACE approach to cognitive interviewing (Prepare, Engage, Account, Close, and Evaluate), a variety of common interview tips and techniques, examples of who might qualify as a key informant, and examples of what might qualify for good photos and video;
  • A sample introductory statement based on the core elements required by university institutional review boards in the United States for obtaining informed consent;
  • A photo and consent form adapted from a form used by the World Health Organization;
  • A topic and introductory question guide adapted from developed from the topics in the initial WWF data collection form and updated with sample main questions devised by Mark Gibson;
  • A data collection form adapted from the initial WWF data collection form and updated to consider impacts to the marine environment; and
  • A data summary form consisting of three summary questions devised by Mark Gibson for identifying useful climate change stories.


Mark Gibson presenting on climate change terminology at the beginning of the workshop

Workshop participants prepare to “interview an earthling” during the first exercise of the workshop

Mark Gibson talks to the volunteer researchers about interview technique before conducting
a sample interview with Minerva Pinelo from the Pan American Development Foundation

Mark Gibson and Claire Hood with the volunteer researchers during the field day at Hopkins