New Report Says Higher-Ed Institutions Are Ready to Address Climate Change

A new report details what colleges and universities can do to help their communities and campuses deal with extreme weather and rising seas. The report, Higher Education’s Role in Adapting to a Changing Climate, evaluates how colleges and universities are preparing society for a changing climate. The report was written by a committee appointed by the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC).

“Human society is facing an unprecedented rate of change due to a very rapidly shifting climate. This is resulting in already-documented vulnerabilities to human communities,” said Dr. David A. Caruso, president of Antioch University New England (AUNE), and a member of ACUPCC’s Higher Education Climate Adaptation Committee. “As this report makes clear, higher-education institutions are well positioned and ready to leverage the best of our faculty and students to empower people to rapidly respond, in effective, just and transparent ways, to a changing world.”

ACUPCC convened the committee, a group of thirteen higher-education officials and experts in climate adaptation, in March 2011.The report gives an overview and examples of what colleges and universities are and should be doing to teach their students, generate knowledge, manage risk on their campuses and help communities become more resilient in the face of climate impacts.

AUNE program highlighted
The report highlights a range of adaptation activities on campuses. AUNE’s master’s degree program in environmental studies with a concentration in sustainable development and climate change (SDCC) is cited as an example of an institution developing curriculum to adapt to climate change. AUNE’s SDCC concentration integrates courses in climate change adaptation and resiliency, environmental site assessment, sustainable community planning and building sustainable organizations. It prepares graduates for environmental careers in the public and private sectors

AUNE has many other achievements on the climate-change front, including the Climate Action Plan 2010-2020, a ten-year road map to achieving carbon neutrality by the year 2020.

The report concludes that, while colleges and universities have a responsibility to address climate adaptation, which can create new opportunities for campuses, to date the sector as a whole has not been sufficiently focused on climate change. The report also found that colleges and universities have the opportunity to serve as community hubs for testing climate preparedness strategies and sharing knowledge with local leaders.

Read the entire report here.