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Climate-U webinar on 25th April 2023

Kenyatta University Green Education Hub ambassadors participate in a world climate simulation held as part of the Green Education Day activities

The climate crisis, sometimes regarded as a ‘superwicked’ problem due to its complexity, is one of the most alarming challenges affecting global communities. Across the globe, actors from the international community, national governments and civil society groups are advocating for an increased role of higher education in climate action. A key role for higher education in climate action is the mainstreaming of climate change knowledge in teaching, research and community service. It is against this backdrop that Kenyatta University (KU) is collaborating with Kisii University and Kenya Methodist University (KeMU) in implementing the Transforming Universities for a Changing Climate research (Climate-U) project in Kenya. Climate-U is a multi-country partnership involving 17 universities in 8 countries: Brazil, Fiji, India, Kenya, Morocco, Mozambique, Tanzania and the United Kingdom. The project’s primary purpose is to strengthen universities’ efforts to address the climate crisis and contribute to the broader understanding of the importance of education in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

The Kenya team of researchers held a webinar on 25th April 2023 as part of the Climate-U webinar series on the role of universities in combating climate change. The aim of the webinar was to reflect on the Participatory Action Research (PAR) process of implementing Climate-U in Kenya, as well as share findings on qualitative case studies by three participating universities. The webinar was chaired by Charlotte Nussey – University College London and the presenters were, Jackline Nyerere – Kenyatta University, Anakalo Shitandi –Kisii University and John Muchiri –Kenya Methodist University. The researchers from the three participating universities reflected on the PAR process of implementing Climate-U in their institutions particularly the revision of courses to mainstream climate change into the universities’ curricula, and developing new pedagogies for delivering the new courses. At Kenyatta University, a programme that is offered to all final year students – the Growing Leaders Programme, was reviewed to integrate content on climate change and sustainable development. Discussions during the webinar also focused on the Climate-U greening activities currently piloted in the three universities, among them the establishment of the Green Education Hub (GEH) at KU, the low carbon and renewable energy efforts at Kisii University and afforestation and waste management practices at KeMU. The presenters also shared findings on qualitative case studies carried out under the project in the three universities.

Dr. Jackline Nyerere who is also Climate-U project Lead in Kenya, presented the KU qualitative case study https://www.climate-uni.com/resources. The presentation highlighted the climate change content coverage in the University’s curricula, campus greening activities, as well as the opportunities and challenges in the University’s involvement in climate action. The presentation by Dr. Nyerere revealed the different approaches used by schools and departments at KU to impart knowledge on climate change. The approaches include an independent postgraduate programme on climate change, standalone climate change courses, and integration of climate change content into common and departmental courses to green their curricula. Moreover, in most schools, students and faculty members are involved in implementing campus greening activities. The activities range from afforestation, waste management practices, environmental and climate change sensitisation activities coordinated by the University Green Education Hub (GEH).

The study shows that the academic schools and departments at KU leverage on the opportunities for partnerships and collaborations to embed climate action in their teaching, research and community engagement roles. Some academic schools are utilising the opportunity of guest lectures where they invite professionals from national and international organisations to share climate change knowledge with the learners and faculty members. The study revealed that the university faculty and students participate in the provision of environmental learning materials, student exchange programmes, conservation initiatives and climate action-related research dissemination events.

The Climate-U activities have thus emphasized the university’s role in supporting national climate action. The study recommends establishment of KU climate action policy to guide the university climate action.

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