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No Thoughts Unwelcome at Drexel's First Climate Café

by precious robinson

Students and faculty attend Drexel's first-ever Climate Cafe

Associate Professor of Politics Alison Kenner, PhD, third from left, was inspired to bring the event to Drexel after her own experience attending a Climate Café. 


May 14, 2024

Drexel’s first-ever Climate Café occurred on a sunny day in May, following the world’s hottest April on record. The event was spearheaded by Associate Professor of Politics Alison Kenner, PhD, and co-facilitated with Jen Britton from Drexel’s Climate and Sustainability office. Kenner was inspired to bring the event to Drexel after her own experience attending a Climate Café. In collaboration with Drexel Climate and Sustainability, Kenner is cultivating space on Drexel’s campus to voice thoughts, fears, ideas and hopes about the climate crisis.

Attendees of the Climate Café spanned the entire Drexel community. The event attracted undergraduate and graduate students, staff, faculty and alumni. Two participants were faculty members on the Urban Environments, Equity and Health team in the Arts and Sciences Innovation Incubator, which is researching the health impact on children in urban environments. As an attendee, it was easy to understand why Kenner was compelled to bring the event to Drexel. Instead of discourse or debate, the premise of a Climate Café is simple: say what’s on your mind. No thoughts were unwelcome, whether it was a question, an idea or an anxiety.  

The Climate Café was a space where people from all over Drexel could unite to vent about the climate crisis. The Climate Café model used at Drexel comes from the Climate Psychology Alliance, a nonprofit network of mental health professionals and researchers who want to prioritize the psychology and emotions behind the climate crisis. The Climate Psychology Alliance created the Climate Café to empower people to discuss the complex feelings associated with impending ecological disasters.

In Drexel’s Climate Café, the feelings of camaraderie and anxiety were front and center. Drexel’s diverse group of participants expressed a wide range of thoughts and emotions, from deep anxiety to radical hope. While many participants shared that they were interested in learning and connecting with others, others shared that they were uncertain about what the future could hold. While the Climate Café is meant as a space to vent, the event concluded with a note of positivity: “Hope is the act of not giving in to fear.” 

Kenner and Drexel’s Climate and Sustainability team will be bringing more Climate Cafés to Drexel in the 2024-25 academic year.