Georgia Institute of Technology
Climate & Sustainability: Challenges and Opportunities
Climate change is one of the greatest challenges of our times requiring coordinated and integrated efforts between science, engineering, and society. Its impacts are felt in all communities and anyone’s daily life in countless ways, but not all climate impacts are equally disruptive, and they are not distributed equally among communities or populations or across the world. Indeed, the effects of climate change, from exacerbated extreme weather to sea level rise, often have disproportionate effects on historically marginalized or underserved communities, and on developing or least developed countries. Current efforts to decarbonize are insufficient to address the climate change challenge. Carbon neutrality cannot be achieved through emission reduction strategies alone, and we need scientific, technical and social innovation to both increase the pace and scale of decarbonization across all economic sectors, and to successfully add negative emission technologies into the action plan. To solve the climate challenge we must a) bring together scientists and engineers with researchers from liberal arts disciplines and with community experts who are deeply committed to understanding the climate-carbon system to mitigate anthropogenic impacts; b) alter the climate change discourse from a threat to a threat and an opportunity to train and build a diverse, transdisciplinary climate workforce focused on developing climate solutions; and c) improve the exchange of scientific and technical information with non-academic stakeholders, while simultaneously raising awareness and support among the public.
Key steps towards implementing the needed integration across science, engineering, and society are exposing and training the next generation of scientists and business leaders in transdisciplinary research and climate sustainability, while building relationships among researchers, students, and partners from diverse backgrounds, increasing diversity and accounting for the fundamental ethical issues associated with climate justice. To this end, Georgia Tech (GT) graduate scholars, Marco Avendano and Ahron Cervaia (lead), will organize and run – with coordination and support from faculty and staff at GT, Spelman College, and the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) – a 5-day workshop at Spelman College, a historically black liberal arts college for women located in Atlanta. The workshop content will be organized around the themes of climate justice, climate science, the role of numerical modeling, the range and role of technologies that may contribute to a carbon neutral world, and how those four themes are interrelated. With this activity, we aim at introducing to the future generation of scientists, engineers, and business leaders an effective plan for societally-informed and justice-centered scientific and technical innovation in the climate and sustainability arena.
The workshop, partially co-sponsored by the Brook Byers Institute for Sustainable Systems (BBISS) at Georgia Tech, will target approximately 150 undergraduate students, will include presentations by two senior leaders in each day, several presentations by graduate students, and plenty of time for effective round tables and discussions across generations of students and researchers on how to identify and advance solutions, and raise awareness, interest and support for a more sustainable and just planet.
University of Delaware
Cross-cutting approaches to fostering creativity, diversity, and mental health in climate change research and education
Climate change researchers, practitioners, and educators recognize that the field needs to foster
creativity to develop innovative solutions; to improve diversity in the people, perspectives, and
knowledge systems involved; and to develop strategies to address climate grief and anxiety. Efforts to
address these issues tend to address creativity, diversity, or mental health in isolation rather than as
complex, interconnected topics. Efforts to cut across these themes are more likely to build holistic
strategies and tools.
We – the University of Delaware (UD) Climate Change Science and Policy Hub, UD’s Associate in Arts
Program, the Newark Charter High School, Delaware State University, and the American Meteorological
Society Committee on Spirituality, Multifaith Outreach, and Science (COSMOS) – therefore propose a
workshop focused specifically on cross-cutting strategies to support creativity, diversity, and mental
health in climate change research and education. The two-day event will have a first day of panels and
activities with ~100 people. Panels and activities will emphasize connections across themes (e.g., a panel
on the connections between diversity and creativity, an activity on creativity and mental health). The
second day will engage a smaller group of educators (~40) in break-out spaces on particular topics (e.g., on building pipelines from high school and two-year colleges to university programs for people from underrepresented groups, leveraging art to support creativity and mental health) where participants actively work to apply the ideas and insights from day one. Speakers, activity designers, and organizers will be invited based on demonstrated efforts on one or more of the main themes (e.g., excellence in supporting mental health in climate education). We will also invite a few national experts on these topics. Workshop participants will be invited from universities, two-year colleges, high schools, and government, community, interfaith and tribal leaders in the Mid Atlantic region.