Two Emory University faculty members and 10 undergraduates are participating in the Nov. 30-Dec. 11 climate change talks taking place in Paris as accredited, official observers.
The Emory delegation left Atlanta on Nov. 27 and is scheduled to file articles at www.climate.emorydomains.org as well as send social media messages and photographs from the conference.
In preparation of their trip, Emory faculty from the Goizueta Business School, the Department of Environmental Sciences and the Institute of Liberal Arts created a new interdisciplinary course titled “Paris Is An Explanation: Understanding Climate Change at the 2015 United Nations Meeting in France.”
The university has enlisted 50 faculty and staff from 20 departments to create its Climate@Emory program.
According to Eri Saikawa, assistant professor in Emory’s Department of Environmental Sciences and the Rollins School of Public Health, said in a news release that the challenges created by climate change go beyond the limits of a single academic discipline.
“We want to connect the dots to improve the quality and impact of Emory’s research and provide a platform for intellectual engagement on climate change,” she added.
Dr. Saikawa is joined by Wesley Longhofer, assistant professor of organization and management at Emory’s Goizueta Business School.
The Emory initiative is taking into account environmental issues within political, cultural, religious and economic contexts ranging from investigating the impact of smoke emanating from open stoves in developing countries to the pollution emitted by coal-fired utilities and gas-guzzling SUVs in industrialized countries.
The students have been exploring climate change throughout the fall from environmental, business, media and political perspectives. They also participated in mock U.N. negotiations to better understand the complex atmospheric science surrounding emissions and the perspectives of the countries involved.
The Paris experience is the capstone to the “Coalition of the Liberal Arts” course, aimed at integrating the liberal arts experience across the humanities and sciences.
The Climate@Emory initiative has the stated goals of developing partnerships and policies at Emory, in Georgia and beyond in response to the challenges of climate change; to produce “high-impact” research on climate science and to boost “climate literacy” across the Emory student population and beyond.
The Paris conference officially titled the “21st Session of the Conference of the Parties to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change” is to attract 147 heads of state and government. U.S. President Obama attended the opening. Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed is scheduled to attend later this week.
The Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change approved Emory as an accredited, official observer to the UN climate talks in December a year ago.
The accreditation allows Emory faculty, staff and students to participate in annual negotiating sessions such as those that produced the international agreements in Kyoto, Japan, in 1997 and Copenhagen, Denmark, in 2009. Emory joins more than 35 other universities that hold this status, including Brown, Duke, Georgetown, Harvard, Johns Hopkins, Princeton, Stanford, and Washington University.
Dr. Saikawa wrote Global Atlanta in an email late Nov. 30: “Things are going well. We have 2 badges so 2 students are going into the official meeting per week and the rest of us are attending other side events and workshops all over Paris. I am tweeting a lot about what we are seeing at the official site as well @esaikawa. Students have started blogging today.”