Campus News

Students Voice their Concerns on Climate Change: Sustainability & Climate Education through Action-Learning

Bokie Muigai October 23, 2023
tree and earth half dead half alive

What are the connections between socially marginalized communities and the negative impacts of climate change? Commemorative events such as Labor Day and Indigenous Day, provide us with an opportunity to reflect on climate action through a sustainability lens. This semester, students in PM 599: Social Dimensions of Climate Change in a Sustainable World are exploring the multitudes of the social dimensions of climate change through varied media including podcasts and writing op-eds.

“One of the ways we are equipping our students to be the most cutting-edge public health practitioners, scholars, and leaders is by training them to be well-versed in climate-health-justice nexus while honing their cross-domain skillsets such as science and climate communications,” affirms Ans Irfan, MD, EdD, DrPH, ScD, MPH, MRPL, faculty in the Division of Environmental Health.

Irfan’s course introduces students to a wide range of climate health areas, including the foundations of climate science, climate justice, climate coloniality, climate vulnerability, politics of climate change, geoengineering, and climate ethics, and climate communications. His mission is for students to actively contribute to social mobilization around climate change by developing climate and science communications skills and generating public scholarship to raise awareness and mobilize climate action. 

As the world becomes more acutely aware of climate impacts and global efforts such as the March to End Fossil Fuels incentivizes social change, there is a necessity to continue to bridge theory to practice. The projects below showcase the depth and breadth of our student’s knowledge as they embrace cutting-edge, 21st-century pedagogical approaches. Through well-crafted podcasts and op-eds, students assessed many of the social dimensions of climate change, including, wealth inequalities and class analysis, worker rights, Labor Day-climate intersection, gender inequities, biodiversity collapse, and other social matters.

“I am deeply grateful and proud of my students for their hard work and effort and for generating high-quality scholarship from podcasts to op-eds. Especially of note is their ability to put their knowledge learned in the classroom into action while bringing the human elements from their personal and community narratives to the forefront to motivate climate action and social change,” states Irfan. “I invite you to check out some of our emerging public health leaders’ thoughts shared on various media,” he concludes.