Course inspires students to organize Climate Week events

By Kimber Williams | Emory Report | March 23, 2016

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Savannah Miller, Naomi Maisel, Taylor McNair, Mae Bowen and Siyue Zong were among the students who represented Emory at the Paris climate talks. The course inspired students to create ECO (Emory Climate Organization), which helped launch Climate Week.

Emory students engaged in an interdisciplinary study of climate change have turned their interest into action, inviting the campus community to learn more about the global crisis through Climate Week.

Scheduled for the week of March 28 through April 1, the inaugural event offers a series of activities open to the public that explore climate change through community dialogue, an art exhibit, film screenings and an environmental justice panel.

The public is also invited to a preview event tonight at 6:30 p.m. at The Carter Center, "What's the Deal with the Climate Deal." The forum will include Emory faculty and students discussing the new U.N. global climate accord.

Student event organizers were initially united around the topic of climate change through a Coalition of the Liberal Arts (CoLA) course offered at Emory last fall, "Paris is an Explanation: Understanding Climate Change at the 2015 United Nations Meeting in France," which continued this spring with new students.

CoLA courses are aimed at integrating the liberal arts experience across the humanities and sciences. Through the course, nine Emory students from the class and two faculty members travelled to Paris to attend the 21st Session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP21). Having received accreditation in 2014 to attend the framework convention as official observers, the group became Emory’s first delegation at the event.

The Paris course was developed and taught by Wesley Longhofer, assistant professor in organization and management at Goizueta Business School; Eri Saikawa, an assistant professor in the Department of Environmental Sciences and Rollins School of Public Health; and Sheila Tefft, senior lecturer in the Emory Writing Program.

Longhofer and Saikawa went to Paris with the students, who blogged about the experience and produced podcasts related to climate change. Through the experience, many students reported having their eyes fully opened to the crisis of climate change, Saikawa says.

"I think a lot of the students, having seen what actually does go on, are now much more focused on what needs to be done," she says.

Once Emory students returned, discussions began in earnest about what could be done to engage the campus community in the topic, Saikawa recalls. One result was the formation of ECO (Emory Climate Organization), the student group that has worked to help launch Climate Week.

The schedule of events includes the following:

"What's the Deal with the Climate Deal?"
Wednesday, March 23, 6:30-8:30 p.m., The Carter Center

Discussion features Emory faculty and students who attended the 2015 Paris U.N. Climate Change Conference.

Climate and Art Exhibition
Monday, March 28, 6-9 p.m., Brooks Commons

This exhibit showcases photographs taken by Emory students at the Paris U.N. climate talks. Attendees can also create their own climate art. The exhibit continues on display throughout the week in the Dobbs University Center Art Gallery.

Earth Festival
Tuesday, March 29, 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m., Cox Bridge

Presented by the Emory Office of Sustainability Initiatives, the festival kicks off Earth Month with vendors, food, music, activities and more.

"Change the System, not the Environment:" Environmental Justice Panel
Wednesday, March 30, 7-8:30 p.m., Atwood 260

Students from Emory University and Agnes Scott College talk about their activism, research and experiences.

"Years of Living Dangerously" film screening
Thursday, March 31, 6-8 p.m., Harland Cinema

After the screening, students participate in a discussion with George Luber, associate director for climate change, Division of Environmental Hazards and Health Effects at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Environmental Health.

Climate Salon with TEDxEmory talk
Friday, April 1, 8 p.m. to 12 p.m., Alpha Epsilon Pi house, 17 Eagle Row

Talks feature student speakers focusing on climate change.

“A Seat at the Table: Food as the Solution for Sustainability, Wellness and Equity”
Monday, April 4, 5:30-7:30 p.m., Winship Ballroom, DUC

Topics for this panel discussion include urban agriculture advancements in Atlanta, food deserts and accessibility, and food as an understated climate change concern.

“Ice and the Sky” film screening
Wednesday, April 6, 5-7:30 p.m., White Hall 208

The screening will be followed by a discussion with the French General Counsulate and one of the French scientists featured in the film, which examines evidence of climate change in Antarctica.