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Environmental Studies launches new Climate Justice, Science, and Policy minor

The Environmental Studies program recently launched a new minor called Climate Justice, Science, and Policy (CJSP), consisting of a suite of classes tailored to inform Brandeis students about the equity issues, scientific innovation and policies surrounding climate change. Assistant Professor of Climate Science and Undergraduate Head of Advising of Environmental Studies Sally Warner described the goals of the minor and its academic implications for students in an interview with The Brandeis Hoot. 


Students must first take a broad introductory course titled Climate Change: Causes, Impacts, Responses and Solutions, currently taught by Warner. Warner explained how students adopt various perspectives to examine the issue of climate change in this course, including a scientific lens, a moral lens, a political lens, an artistic lens and an innovative lens. According to the course syllabus students first learn about the physical and chemical causes of climate change, underscoring significant evidence of anthropogenic influence on climate change. Students then learn about legal and philosophical questions to consider when implementing policies aimed at combating climate change. Finally, students examine multiple solutions to mitigate and eradicate the adverse effects of climate change. 


“I use the word solutions, as opposed to solution, very deliberately,” Warner said. “There is no silver bullet.” The minor’s core introductory requirement will impart on students that “climate change needs to be fixed in all sorts of ways, both in terms of mitigating emissions…but also…helping communities adapt,” she emphasized. 


In addition to coursework, attaining the minor requires students to partake in a professional development activity. This can include attending webinars or talks where prominent figures speak about climate change, attending sustainability workshops and more. Experiential learning opportunities are also available for students in study abroad programs


Warner emphasized the importance of guest speakers as an enriching addition to students’ academic experiences in the minor. She plans to invite professors across departments to speak about how their research interests and expertises relate to climate change and add crucial perspectives to the issue, she described.


Another notable feature of the CJSP minor is its interdisciplinary nature, Warner explained. The three pillars of justice, science and policy capture the ideology of multiple disciplines, thereby catering to a wide variety of student interests. “No matter where a student comes from, if they are a science student or more of a humanities student…they can find a way to tie climate into their current interests,” she said.


In addition to the multiple academic avenues students can pursue at Brandeis to learn about climate change and environmental concerns, Warner reminded students to explore clubs and organizations regarding sustainability in order to become a part of a community that practices green and clean methods. Some organizations that Warner highlighted were Symbiosis, Brandeis Sustainability Ambassadors and Brandeis Climate Justice.


Armed with a well-rounded background on climate change, students who complete the CJSP minor can look forward to many job prospects, Warner envisions, saying, “I am most excited about seeing what kinds of jobs students land with the climate minor on their resume…[Climate change] is such an important problem for today and going into the future, that I really think it will open the doors for students to be able to get the job in whatever sector they want.” 

Warner encouraged students to reach out to the Environmental Studies faculty and staff if they are interested in learning more about the minor. She believes that this minor will equip students with the necessary information to pursue solutions to climate change, and invites students to get involved, saying, “We want Brandeis students to be part of the solution going forward.”

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