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Climate Year 2021

Climate Year: Drexel University and the Academy of Natural Sciences

Drexel instituted a “Climate Year” for calendar year 2021 as a way to jump-start an institutional climate and sustainability strategy. We used this year to catalog and celebrate the work already being done by faculty, staff, and students, and we created new programs and initiatives to expand the work. This page is our archival record of Climate Year.

Climate change is an urgent global crisis that calls on people and institutions across the globe to act collectively to address it. Recognizing this urgency, students, faculty and professional staff from across Drexel University and the Academy of Natural Sciences are coming together to make 2021 our Climate Year. This year, we are celebrating, supporting and cataloging our ongoing climate work happening at all levels of the University as well as launching new initiatives to make combating climate change central to our institutional practices, curriculum, research and civic engagement. Climate Year is focused on five key goals:

  • Strengthen our institutional climate commitment.
  • Promote climate and sustainability-focused courses and experiential learning opportunities.
  • Inspire applied climate-focused research, civic engagement and collaboration.
  • Engage the community through public-facing climate and sustainability programming.
  • Take inventory, coordinate and track climate work happening at all levels of the University.

Find out more detail about our goals here.

Climate Year is our opportunity to learn and do something about issues like the unequal burdens of climate change on vulnerable communities, habitat and species loss, public health impacts of a warming climate, the economic risks of inaction and more.

We'd like to know what you're doing! This website will aim to catalog existing and upcoming climate and sustainability programs, courses and activities happening across Drexel and the Academy. Tell us what is missing from this page by filling out our Climate Year survey, or emailing

Follow this link to go to the Academy of Natural Science's Climate Year page.

Find out more about some of our Climate Year activities below.

Sustainability Tracking, Benchmarking and Reporting

Drexel is initiating its first year of benchmarking its sustainability portfolio through the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System™ (STARS), a transparent, self-reporting framework for colleges and universities to measure their sustainability performance. STARS® is intended to engage and recognize the full spectrum of higher education institutions, from community colleges to research universities. It encompasses long-term sustainability goals for already high-achieving institutions, as well as entry points of recognition for institutions that are taking first steps toward sustainability.

Creation of new applied, Problem-based Learning Opportunities that address place-based climate and sustainability issues

The EPIC-N model is an experiential learning model centered on a University and municipality partnership. Students will get to work on real-world local issues while the municipalities will receive an influx of interdisciplinary and ambitious ideas. Each year, we will partner with a different municipality and address their climate and sustainability needs through coursework across the University.

For our first year of this partnership model, we're starting locally and partnering with Drexel Real Estate and Facilities, Procurement Services, Business Services and University partners to find climate and sustainability projects in and around our campus that students can take on in their coursework. If you have a course you would like to suggest be included, please fill out our Climate Year survey!

There are brand new courses and programs being launched this year, including a Climate Change Minor (details to come) and a course on Global Climate Action (HNRSt480, winter and spring terms, 2021). This course highlights global climate proceedings and features bi-weekly guest speakers who are experts in climate change and policy.

Inspire applied climate-focused research, aligned with international climate dialogue

As official Observers to the United Nationals Framework Convention for Climate Change (UNFCCC) process, and host of the North American Hub of the Urban Climate Change Research Network, Drexel student and faculty researchers can find opportunities to partner with international practitioners in need of climate-focused solutions. Join the Hub today!

Starting in winter term 2021, the Office of Global Engagement is offering an honors course, "Great Works: Climate Action," to examine the development and influence of the UNFCCC Conference of Parties and Drexel's participation in the annual conference.

In partnership with the City of Philadelphia, Drexel and the Academy will be convening a cross-sector meeting of climate and sustainability stakeholders to co-generate a multidisciplinary and justice-centered climate research agenda for the Philadelphia region.

Climate Year Goals

Institutional Identity

  • Join the University Climate Change Coalition (UC3), a coalition of research universities committed to climate action and cross-sector collaboration
  • Through a participatory process, strengthen our institutional climate commitment and develop principles for incorporation into teaching, research, institutional investment and civic engagement
  • Build this strengthened climate and sustainability commitment into our Recruitment/Outreach Strategy
  • Maintain a website to serve as a central hub and calendar for all University/ANS climate and sustainability events, course offerings and research initiatives

Teaching, Clinical Practice and Student Learning

  • Work with the academic leadership and our many education specialists to develop a Teaching and Learning Strategy that integrates climate and sustainability principles into curriculum across all colleges and schools, synchronizing with equity priorities of the Anti-Racism Task Force
  • Create new applied, problem-based learning opportunities that address place-based climate and sustainability issues through the EPIC-N model, with participating faculty celebrated as "Drexel Climate Educators"

Climate and Sustainability Research

  • Co-generate a multidisciplinary Climate and Sustainability Research Agenda for the Philadelphia region together with local governmental and non-governmental stakeholders leveraging DU/ANS knowledge and skills
  • As official Observers to the UNFCCC process, and host of the North American Hub of UCCRN, incentivize DU/ANS researchers, students, and academic leadership to participate in high-level side events at COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland
  • Incentivize participation in Interdisciplinary Working Groups across ANS and DU to pursue sponsored and collaborative research opportunities in line with the Climate and Sustainability principles and agenda

Institutional Investment (Business and Campus Operations)

  • Convene appropriate staff to encourage operational climate leadership across all colleges and schools and the Academy
  • Using the STARS framework, establish Sustainability and Climate Performance Standards and Policies for business operations at the University and Academy

Maximize Civic Impact

  • Convene a cross-sector meeting of climate and sustainability stakeholders to solidify the role of DU/ANS as the City of Philadelphia's partner in climate preparedness
  • Elevate and deliver public programming and engagement focused on climate and sustainability offered through both ANS and Drexel

Climate Year Speaker Series

The Climate Year Speaker Series was a series of cross-disciplinary conversations highlighting climate-related work across the University. Each session covered a different climate change challenge, featuring up to three speakers from different departments or offices at Drexel, followed by a moderated panel discussion. Browse the links below for recordings of each of the events, the descriptions for which are available under the videos on YouTube.

Climate Change and Urban Health

Averting Climate Disaster: Technology, Society & Politics

Infrastructure + Health: The Impacts of COVID and Climate on Transportation

Climate Risks from Headwaters to Coast

Sustainability on Campus

The Student Experience at the UN Climate Conference

Careers in Climate Change

Global Council of Climate Leaders