Drexel Climate Year: 6 Months of Progress
The message was sent to all faculty, staff and students by the Provost on July 8, 2021.
Dear Students and Colleagues,
Earlier this year, we announced 2021 as Drexel’s Climate Year to rally together students, faculty, researchers and staff at Drexel University and the Academy of Natural Sciences and begin to create an intentional, climate-conscious culture and practice. Spearheading this work has been the Climate & Sustainability Working Group, in collaboration with students and colleagues across all disciplines.
While addressing the climate crisis will take more than one year, much work has been done in the past six months to advance this mission. I am pleased to share a sampling of the progress that has been made to date related to each of our Climate Year goals:
Goal #1: Strengthen our institutional climate commitment.
Drexel University was accepted into the University Climate Change Coalition (UC3), a network of more than 20 R1 universities from the U.S., Mexico and Canada that are committed to collaborative problem-solving around the climate crisis. Membership acknowledges Drexel’s institutional commitment to continued progress, as well as the efforts of faculty, staff and students to amplify campus programs and activities aligned with UC3’s mission.
Goal #2: Promote climate and sustainability-focused experiential learning opportunities.
During the winter term, the Climate & Sustainability Working Group hosted the “Interdisciplinary Case Competition: Climate, COVID-19 and Drexel Dining,” in which teams of undergraduates tackled the increased reliance on single-use plastics during the pandemic. A second case competition, “Communicating How Climate Change Impacts our Health,” is currently underway, with teams tasked with creating a public information campaign for the Drexel community around climate change and health. Additionally, the College of Arts and Sciences launched a minor in Climate Change.
Goal #3: Inspire applied climate-focused research, civic engagement and collaboration.
Drexel University has partnered with the City of Philadelphia, the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission and the Consortium for Climate Risks in the Urban Northeast to create a Philadelphia regional Climate Resilience Research Agenda. Working groups convened in June to begin identifying knowledge gaps and research needed to support regional climate resilience. The results of this work will be presented at a public meeting this fall.
Goal #4: Engage the community through public-facing climate and sustainability programming.
A rich array of climate-focused programming has included the Academy of Natural Sciences’ Environmental Justice Week in January, Earth Week Celebration in April, Academy Town Square Series, and its Gideon Mendel: Drowning World” exhibit, on display through October 17. Additional Drexel programming has included the Global Research Symposium, hosted by the Office of Global Engagement, a monthly Climate Year Speaker Series, and a book circle for the book “All We Can Save.” The Academy continues to promote ways to incorporate sustainability into everyday practices through its Small Actions Spark Big Changes campaign.
Goal #5: Take inventory, coordinate, and track.
This spring, the Climate & Sustainability Working Group submitted Drexel’s first STARS report, a self-reporting framework for universities to measure their sustainability performance. Drexel received a Bronze rating, and the Working Group has identified a path to improve this rating over the next few years.
My sincere gratitude to our students and colleagues serving on the Working Group and participating in efforts across the University and Academy to address the climate crisis. Your leadership is greatly needed and will ensure that Drexel contributes to a more sustainable and equitable future for all.
For the full midyear progress report, please visit the Climate & Sustainability website. To explore ways of getting involved in this important work or to join the sustainability listserv, please contact the Climate & Sustainability Working Group at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Paul E. Jensen
Executive Vice President
Nina Henderson Provost