report calls on Harvard to expand climate change education | New

A university report released last week called on Harvard to expand its climate change offerings by hiring new faculty and field staff and creating a standing committee to lead the school’s efforts.

The report, titled “The Future of Climate Education at Harvard University,” was written by a committee set up to study the school’s climate change programming. The group consisted of 29 Harvard faculty members and senior education administrators from across the university.

The report comes three months after Harvard announced plans to create a new institute for climate and sustainability that will serve as a hub for climate research and education.

The report offered four general recommendations to shape the future of climate education at Harvard. He called for “the hiring of faculty, the institutionalization of a standing committee on climate education, the staffing and substantial funding of a program to accelerate climate education, and the creation of ‘an external advisory committee on climate education’.

The committee interviewed students, faculty, and alumni and held focus groups on Harvard’s climate education. The report included testimonials from current affiliates and statistics on student satisfaction with the school’s current offerings.

According to the report, only 20% of students surveyed “said there were enough opportunities to engage with climate-related topics outside of class.”

About 80% of alumni surveyed “expressed an interest in playing a role in climate education opportunities for current Harvard students,” and 90% of students surveyed “said they would like to engage with alumni.” students on climate-related topics as part of coursework or as part of extracurricular abilities,” the report states.

Although there are educational offerings from the Harvard University Center for the Environment and several climate-related undergraduate classes and concentrations, “there are few clear pathways for students within schools/departments or between schools to pursue their knowledge and skills in a structured way,” the report states.

The committee asked the University to hire more faculty to increase the number of advanced climate courses and improve current offerings.

The report also says Harvard should create a standing committee on climate education to advance program, degree and concentration offerings and explore the potential for a College climate education requirement. Additionally, he suggested that the school could “create a climate education acceleration program tasked with catalyzing institutional innovation, building expertise and impact, and developing partnerships with organizations in outside of Harvard”.

In addition to curriculum programming, the report called on the University to support opportunities outside the classroom. Harvard’s Upper Class Houses, for example, could help facilitate cross-school interactions between College students and other affiliates, according to the report.

In a message at the start of the document, James H. Stock, Harvard’s vice provost for climate and sustainability, wrote that the report “summarizes the rich offerings of climate education already at Harvard and, importantly, presents a vision of the great potential to expand Harvard’s efforts in climate education, both on campus and beyond.

The committee co-chairs who wrote the report, N. Michele Holbrook ’82 and Dustin Tingley, wrote in the summary that the group’s approach “emphasized a process where local groups could meet with their community to understand their needs and develop a vision to share with the large university committee.

“A strong, multidisciplinary educational program must be the cornerstone of Harvard’s focus on climate and sustainability,” they wrote.

—Editor Christie K. Choi can be reached at

—Editor Carrie Hsu can be reached at

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