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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 Events and Programs

Join us throughout the year as we celebrate Climate Year and bring attention to the urgent climate crisis. Check back as events and details are finalized throughout the year!

Do you have an event that you would like to be featured as part of Climate Year? Please email with details.


Climate Year Speaker Series
Join these monthly, interdisciplinary conversations highlighting climate related work across the University. Each session will cover a different climate change challenge, featuring up to three speakers from different departments or offices at Drexel, followed by a moderated panel discussion. Look for the next event on the sustainability calendar. If you’re hosting an event that you would like to be included in the Climate Year speaker series, email

Monthly Green Infrastructure, Climate and Cities
Green Infrastructure, Climate and Cities Seminar is hosted through the Consortium for Climate Risk in the Urban Northeast (CCRUN). This monthly seminar occurs the first Wednesday of the month from 4-6 p.m. and covers urban solutions to global problems associated with increasing temperature and sea level rise, precipitation variability, and greenhouse gas emissions.

Gideon Mendel: Drowning World
Gideon Mendel: Drowning World is a unique photographic exploration of flooding, a stark portrayal of the human condition within the context of overwhelming climate events around the world. The exhibition features 37 photographs, two found-object displays and a video by leading contemporary photographer Gideon Mendel. Opens May 1.

Student Conference on Global Challenges: Disaster!
The Office of Global Engagement is hosting its 14th Annual Student Conference on Global Challenges on Tuesday, May 18, 2021. The conference, with the theme of "Disaster!", will feature research and dialogue regarding the multitude of perils that impact society's well-being — from climate and natural disasters to pandemic and economic threats. Undergraduate and graduate students are encouraged to apply to present their research.

Climate Resilience Research Agenda Convening
As Drexel University joins the University Change Coalition (UC3), Drexel and the Academy are hosting a cross-sector convening in partnership with the City of Philadelphia and the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission to inform the development of a climate resilience research agenda for the region. Learn more here.


Interdisciplinary Case Competition
"Interdisciplinary Case Competition: Climate, COVID-19 and Drexel Dining" took place Jan. 20-27. As the climate emergency accelerates, we now find ourselves grappling with COVID-19 safety measures that have suddenly increased our reliance on single-use plastics — a major driver of fossil fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. In Drexel's dining services, how can we support the need for student safety while minimizing the use of plastics?

As part of the case competition, a workshop called “Fracked, Cracked and Discarded: Environmental Injustice and Plastics” was held to provide students with an in-depth understanding of the human and environmental harm of the plastics industry. Dr. Dianne Sicotte presented her research on plastics and environmental justice. She focused on environmental injustice generated by the global production networks that turn ethane (a natural gas liquid) into plastics and examined environmental inequality and threats to health and safety from fracking, from converting ethane into plastic items at petrochemical plants, and from the disposal of discarded plastic items in the communities of people of color and the poor.

The case competition concluded on January 27th, where four teams of students presented their solutions to a panel of judges and winners were announced in the competition final.

Environmental Justice January
The Academy of Natural Sciences hosted an Environmental Justice week January 11-19, which included an Academy Conversation on what environmental justice is, a film screening of Cooked: Survival by Zipcode, and a lecture featuring Corina Newsome.

CCRUN Monthly Green Infrastructure, Climate and Cities Seminars
Join CCRUN the first Wednesday of each month at 4 p.m. All seminars are archived here. To kick off Climate Year, the series focused on environmental justice issues in the Northeast urban corridor, including:

Lecture on Civil Engineering Resiliency in Response to Extreme Events
On January 22, the Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering Department hosted Dr. Robert C. Bachus of Geosyntec Consultants to present: Civil Engineering Resiliency in Response to Extreme Events East Coast Lessons. In this video, Dr. Bachus presents a brief summary of several primarily East Coast projects where extreme conditions drove the response and/or design, then discusses the evolution of design concepts from simple allowable stress and deterministic approaches to performance-based designs, risk-informed decision making, and resilient design considerations.

Academy Conversation: Is the Climate of Climate Change Changing?
A change is finally coming. From the local to the federal level, goals are being set to mitigate current climate change trends. Matina Granieri, policy and program Coordinator in Philadelphia's Office of Sustainable, Dr. Richard Dilworth, head of the Department of Politics at Drexel University and Scott Quitel, director of social entrepreneurship in the Close School at Drexel, discuss what actions are being implemented to help tackle climate change, from City Hall in Philadelphia all the way to the White House. The discussion was moderated by Mariangeles Arce H., ichthyology collection manager at the Academy of Natural Sciences. Watch the recorded event here.

Riskscapes and High-Risk Neighborhoods: A Sociological Research Agenda in an Era of Multiple and Intersecting Urban-Environmental Crises
"Riskscapes" encompass symbolic and material forces that threaten losses to lives and livelihoods across space and time. "High-risk neighborhoods" can be understood as places of cumulative risk accumulation and interconnection across multiple riskscapes. This talk presents an agenda for future sociological research on riskscapes and high-risk neighborhoods in an era of multiple and intersecting urban-environmental crises, drawing from recent scholarship by Dr. Raoul S. Liévanos and his collaborators. Dr. Liévanos focuses in particular on the need for such research to be attentive to the central role that the relational devaluation of colonized and racialized people and places plays in producing high-risk neighborhoods and the frontlines of current and future urban-environmental crises. Watch the recorded event here.