Campus News

Earth Day 2023: Integrating Innovative Climate Education into Curriculum

Bokie Muigai April 25, 2023
graphic of earth and sky

In commemoration of Earth Day, students enrolled in the Health Promotion 448: Global Environmental Changes and Health course, wrote op-eds about the intersectionality of various public health issues in relation to climate change.

Earth Day provides an opportunity to evaluate climate action and benchmark sustainability efforts—a core value and mission for USC. It serves as a reminder to take stock of our responsibility to addressing the implications of climate change, and this includes integrating sustainability and climate health equity instruction into public health teaching.

This semester, Ans Irfan, MD, EdD, DrPH, MPH, MRPL, faculty in the Division of Environmental Health, explored social dimensions of climate change with his undergraduate scholars. This included climate justice, environmental health inequities, the political economy of climate action, climate storytelling, and effective climate communications.

“We want to train the next generation of climate and health equity thought leaders to perform rigorous analyses and become effective science communicators, with the competency to mobilize the public through profound applied scholarship,” affirmed Irfan.  All the assignments in this class, were designed to equip students with practical tools needed to form a robust climate-competent public health workforce to address major challenges of our time.

Students designed their own independent projects, that focused on cultivating their unique interests, passions, as well as skills relevant to their career aspirations. These resulted in a rich array of final projects ranging from climate policy memos and presentations for high-schools to climate poetry and stories.

In their final assignment, students synthesized what they learned throughout the semester, providing an opportunity to apply theory to practice, and develop their climate communication skills to formulate informative pieces for the public. This innovative pedagogy on sustainability aims to illuminate the vast ways in which climate change affects communities, and multiple avenues towards building a more sustainable future.

“I am exceptionally proud of my students. They did a splendid job tackling a wide range of issues around social dimensions of climate and health, such as colonialism and climate change; the political economy of climate change; corporate accountability; scrutinizing capitalism; eco-anxiety; and more. They artfully weaved in their own positionality and lived experiences to highlight the collective anxieties of their generation with heartfelt, powerful calls to action. It was an absolute joy to work with these scholars and read their work,” shared Irfan.

The op-eds reflect the breadth and depth of our stellar student community. We invite you to check out their work as we wrap up Earth Month celebrations.

Does Climate Change Impact My Community’s Health? By Alina Mercado

What My House Burning Down Means for Me and You By Amelia Goudzwaard

Remember When We All Loved Earth? By Audrey Stavish

A Green Glowing Future, Plagued by a Past of Environmental Injustice By Cate Baroni

A Dumpster Dive into Humanity By Chloe Ahn

Why We Must Regulate Amazonian Gold Mining By Cole Hasson

Effect of Sea Level Rise on Communities Lower on the Socioeconomic Scale By Earle Schweizer

The Sailing Industry Contribution to Climate Change Mitigation Limited By Maritime Regulations By Gabriella Guajardo

Dear Dr. Al-Jaber: Ecological Modernization is not the Solution By Giancarlo Ceja

How the French Colonization of Morocco Emerges from the Classroom to the Climate and Health Sectors by Hanin Almodaweb

Climate and Health Implications of the Willow Project By Lauren Park

Clean Air & Water: For How Long? By Lexi Colodne

The Dangers of Hog Biogas in North Carolina By Maggie Torstrick

Nuclear Ideas By Navid Ghalambor

Climate Burnout By Quinn Pettit

Climate Change’s Impact on Allergies and Asthma By Rachel Lundstrum

The Love for a Coffee Giant By Robert Amaro

The need for “H” in ESG: the case for health-equity prioritization in the corporate sector By Samantha Barrie

Why Are We Solving the Climate Crisis with the Climate Crisis Contributors? By Scarlett Lovallo

Snow Shovels and Suntans: The Climate and Health Impacts of the Twin Cities Historical April Heatwave By Yodi Philipos