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What role for universities in the climate crisis? An international dialogue

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What role for universities in the climate crisis? An international dialogue18th November 2022Kenyatta University (KU), University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM) and University College London (UCL) held parallel seminars on 18th of November, 2022 coinciding with the close of COP 27. The seminars were held to reflect on the implications of the Conference of Parties 27 (COP 27) for universities and explore the contribution of the Transforming Universities for a Changing Climate project (Climate-U) to climate action. The main goal of the seminars was to enhance awareness and public engagement on universities and climate action. The parallel session at Kenyatta University was held at the International Language and Culture Centre Main Hall. Several stakeholders were in attendance, including the University management, faculty and students from the three Climate-U collaborating universities in Kenya (Kenyatta University, Kisii University and Kenya Methodist University), Climate-U Participatory Action Research Group (PARG) members, and Green Education Hub ambassadors. There were other participants drawn from other universities in Kenya, government agencies including the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) and Nairobi County Government, and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) including Green Planet Kenya, Laudato Si Movement-Africa, GreenPeace Africa.

KU Vice-Chancellor Prof. Paul Wainana was represented at the event by Dr. James Koske, Dean School of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences. The vice chancellor’s remarks stressed the importance of Article six of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which recognises education and training as powerful tools to transform communities. Increased dissemination of climate change information will not only make individuals more aware of the consequences of their behaviours but empowers them to contribute to broader climate change dialogue to shape climate policies and encourage the adoption of green lifestyles.

Dr. Jackline Nyerere, Climate-U co-investigator in Kenya and Green Education Hub (GEH) lead, presented findings on students’ experiences and engagement in climate change action in Kenya, a survey that was carried involving more than 2000 students from the three participating universities – KU, KSU and KeMU. The survey findings identified a gap in climate literacy, with most students interested in more exposure to climate change education and hands-on climate action activities. Further, Dr. Purity Muthoni, a Climate-U and GEH researcher presented findings of a qualitative study on KU’s climate action. The qualitative study examined coverage of climate change content in the KU tripartite roles of teaching, research and community engagement.

A Panel discussion featuring representatives from NEMA, Nairobi County Government, Green Planet Kenya, Laudato Si Movement-Africa, GreenPeace Africa and university faculty followed. The panel discussion covered matters ranging from youth opportunities in climate action, climate literacy in higher education, pathways to carbon neutrality, circular economy, impacts of climate change on communities, design and delivery of climate change curriculum and institutional collaborations in climate action. The participation of stakeholders from various organisations in the panel discussions is anchored on Climate-U’s objective of building and strengthening national, regional and global university networks and knowledge exchange on climate change.

Later, the three host universities – KU, UCL, and UDSM held a joint session, What role for universities in the climate crisis? An international dialogue. The joint session provided a chance for the three universities to share knowledge about the interventions implemented under Climate-U to strengthen the universities’ role in tackling the climate crisis. Discussions during the joint session revealed that equipping students with well-grounded climate information will bridge the climate literacy gap in societies. Exposing learners to climate change education will likely transform them into multiplier agents of climate change awareness. Universities were encouraged to seek diverse partnerships with relevant stakeholders to strengthen their co-production and co-creation of climate change education knowledge and resources. Counter-hegemonic initiatives such as involving students and communities impacted by the climate crisis in the co-creation of knowledge and teaching and learning materials will lead to the development of resources that give a first-hand account of the extent and magnitude of the climate crisis. Participants in the joint session challenged the universities to open up pathways of creating equality, equity and inclusion for all individuals and communities to solve the challenge of marginalisation and exclusion in climate action decision-making. It was noted that adopting the PAR model by higher education institutions (HEIs) would strengthen their involvement in climate action and assure positive outcome. Click the following links to watch the recordings of the event

Kenyatta University Session-What Role for Universities in the Climate Crisis? An International Dialogue

UCL, KU & UDSM Joint Session- What role for Universities in the Climate Crisis? An International Dialogue




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