Climate change, like the COVID-19 pandemic, is a global crisis that requires the participation and consciousness of many institutions and individuals in order to relieve it.
In partnership with its Academy of Natural Sciences, Drexel has chosen 2021 as their Climate Year.
Drexel’s Climate and Sustainability website outlines five goals to address institutional practices, curriculum, research and civic engagement related to climate change.
According to an official statement, the university aims to strengthen their institutional climate commitment; promote climate- and sustainability-focused courses and experiential learning opportunities; inspire applied climate-focused research, civic engagement and collaboration; and engage the community through climate and sustainability programming.
One key goal is the tracking and coordination of inventory and climate work happening at all levels of the University, which involves the intervention of a separate organization.
Drexel has joined over 1,000 other colleges and universities across North America in using the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System framework for measuring sustainability performance.
STARS is a transparent, self-reporting framework for colleges and universities to measure their sustainability performance. According to their website, the organization is committed to holding already high-achieving institutions accountable for long-term sustainability goals.
The inclusion of climate-based curriculum has the potential to create enduring sustainability education at Drexel.
Starting in winter term of 2021, the Office of Global Engagement has offered an Honors College course, “Great Works: Climate Action,” to examine the development and influence of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Conference of Parties and Drexel’s participation in the annual conference.
Alexandra George, a third-year communication major, took the course this winter.
“It was a great opportunity to be able to learn about a topic that isn’t a part of my major. I learned that climate action has to do with every single part of society. No matter what career path we might take, the climate crisis will affect it,” George said.
This course highlights global climate proceedings and features bi-weekly guest speakers who are experts in climate change and policy.
Additionally, there is a new undergraduate Climate Change minor being offered. This minor provides an overview of the Earth’s climate system and the science of climate change, allowing students to understand, mitigate and adapt to its potential impacts from varied disciplinary perspectives.
Another learning opportunity offered through this initiative is the application of the EPIC-N model, which is an experiential learning model centered on the partnership of a University and municipality.
Drexel maintains its sustainability and civic-engagement pledges by offering students a chance to find solutions to local issues. Each year, the University will partner with a different municipality and address their climate and sustainability needs through coursework across the Drexel.
According to the official website of The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University, “Climate Year is our opportunity to learn and do something about issues like the unequal burdens of climate change on vulnerable communities, habitat and species loss, public health impacts of a warming climate, the economic risks of inaction and more”.
Drexel aims to inspire student and faculty researchers to partner with international practitioners in need of climate-focused solutions. The University, in partnership with the City of Philadelphia and the Academy of Natural Sciences, will convene a meeting of climate and sustainability stakeholders to develop a multidisciplinary, justice-centered research agenda for the Philadelphia region.