Predicting and mitigating the effects of climate warming requires an integrated program of teaching, research, and community outreach. This research program focuses on understanding the interactions among vegetation, climate change, and disturbances in northern biomes. Interactions among these variables will likely produce complex vegetation dynamics over the next century that are different than models assuming simple correlations between climate and vegetation. This work across a broad climatic gradient in Manitoba, Canada, examines long-term records in peat and lake sediments to reconstruct the temporal and spatial interactions of these processes at local, regional, and subcontinental spatial scales. This research will be integrated into a new global change ecology curriculum at Carleton College, including courses in ecosystem ecology, paleoecology, global change biology, and plant physiological ecology. Innovative teaching methods, such as case studies, inquiry based labs, and community service learning, are being developed for these courses and will be disseminated online for science educators nationwide.