Unwreck the Beach: UBC is bringing climate to the classroom through new certificate program

UBC’s department of geography and department of earth, ocean and atmospheric sciences have launched an interdisciplinary Certificate in Climate Studies and Action for the 2022/23 academic year.

After receiving Board of Governors approval on June 29, this certificate program is full steam ahead! The certificate is open to students in all faculties, and there are no prerequisites. 

According to the UBC Calendar, the program allows students to “take a deeper look at climate justice, the social, economic, political and cultural processes that underlie climate change.”

There are 60 program spots available for the 2022/23 academic year cohort. Students can submit an application form to enrol in the program.

Program co-coordinator Dr. Jessica Dempsey said the certificate was created in response to one of the strategic priorities determined by the UBC Climate Emergency Task Force — “expand climate education opportunities and resources for the UBC community and broader public.”

Dempsey said this program provides an alternative path for climate engagement for students who are not involved in activist communities or traditionally represented in climate fields, like BIPOC.

Suzanne Lawrence, the undergraduate advisor for the department of geography, said students are able to enrol in this certificate in addition to their degree.

The program requires students to take 18 credits across 5 categories: climate action, climate emergency, climate justice, climate science and an elective. These courses include one capstone class and three one-credit climate action labs.

Dr. Tara Ivanochko, program co-coordinator and academic director of the UBC Sustainability Initiative, said the climate action labs are “designed to be a common room” for the cohort, allowing students to engage with climate studies while creating connections with others in the program.

Labs are divided into two main components: a group project and class-wide workshops. Group projects are developed to “meet the needs of community partners,” said Ivanochko.

Students in the labs will be required to complete a project proposal by the end of the semester. Proposals selected by community partners — like the City of Vancouver, various non-governmental organizations and Indigenous communities — will be assigned to students in the capstone course the following semester.

The program plans to develop an advisory board in the near future that governs over the certificate. Dempsey said this board will include the program directors, external stakeholders, students, alumni and faculty.

To learn more about the Certificate in Climate Studies and Action, visit geog.ubc.ca/undergraduate/climate-certificate.

Unwreck the Beach is The Ubyssey’s sustainability column. Send topics you’d like covered and pitches to sustainability@ubyssey.ca.

Jasmine Cadeliña Manango is a third-year GRSJ and creative writing student. She is a staff writer for The Ubyssey. She mainly reports on climate and social justice and spends most of her time reading or thinking about story ideas that she says she’ll write eventually.