Colleges tackling climate change in the classroom
The topic of climate change is nothing if not controversial. Despite evidence to the contrary, many people dispute the scientific validity of theories speculating that human activity is responsible for rising temperatures, increasing sea levels and unpredictable weather patterns. Many men and women of faith enrolling at Christian colleges and universities believe that action must be taken to reduce reliance on fossil fuels that are harmful to the environment, but few courses specializing in the science of climate change are available. That could soon change, if a recent decision made by officials at Unity College in Maine becomes the norm.
A central focus
The small, private liberal arts college recently opted to make climate change the core focus of its curriculum in an attempt to educate the next generation of scientists who can tackle the growing problem. Unity College’s decision is particularly timely, as President Barack Obama called for greater emphasis to be placed on the mitigation of climate change during his second inauguration address. While many Christian colleges and secular institutions offer scientific degree programs that incorporate some elements of climate change, Unity is the first educational institution in the country to tie all aspects of its courses to this challenging field.
Students enrolling at Unity will learn about how climate change affects virtually every area of society, from law enforcement and regulatory compliance to environmental writing and awareness campaigns. In addition to the college’s bold move to make climate change a central focus of its curriculum, Unity is also the first university in the U.S. that has divested all funding from fossil fuels, a move that many education experts believe will gain traction across the country.
Unity is not the only academic institution taking climate change seriously. A faculty member at the University of Hawaii recently published the first textbook focusing on climate change aimed at college students.
Charles Fletcher, associate dean and professor of geology and geophysics at the University of Hawaii at Manoa’s School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology, is the author of “Climate Change: What the Science Tells Us.” While many textbooks deal with the topic of climate change, Fletcher’s book is the first title aimed primarily at undergraduate students.
Men and women of faith who believe strongly in the need to protect the environment may want to consider enrolling in scientific degree programs at Christian colleges and universities to learn more about how to mitigate the damage caused by rising global temperatures.