DENIN Ambassadors Host Dialogue on UN Climate Change Report

In November 2018 the Delaware Environmental Institute Ambassadors hosted a panel discussion about the latest reports from the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change—Global Warming of 1.5℃. The Ambassadors are a group of environmentally committed students who engage and inform others on important environmental issues.

Motivated by a desire to inspire a greater interest in and awareness of climate change, and noticing that this report was getting traction in the news and on social media, Ambassador co-chairs Grace Pedersen and Erica Tompkins led the group in organizing a discussion forum in November.

They invited a top-notch interdisciplinary panel of UD faculty, but worried that nobody would show up to listen. The event succeeded beyond their expectations. They attracted a diverse crowd of more than 50 people.

The discussion was guided by questions from the audience about subjects such as intergenerational and social equity, means for adapting to climate change, and opportunities for engaging a wider audience.

“How should we talk to peers and elders about climate change and engage others as we’ve been engaged?,” asked Tompkins.

The panelists encouraged the students to continue to exercise the voice they had found in hosting this event.

“We should bear in mind that we have solutions,” said panelist Ismat Shah, professor of physics, “and you, in this room, have the skills to bring others on board.”

Attendees felt empowered by the event. Junior Amani Thurman, energy and environmental policy major, left feeling motivated to help spread the word about climate change.

“The DENIN Ambassadors are wise beyond their years,” said Jeanette Miller, DENIN’s associate director for interdisciplinary programs. “They understand what students are thinking about, and they translate that into opportunities for deeper dialogue. The IPCC panel they organized was like something faculty or graduate students might convene.”

Other panelists included Jeremy Firestone, professor of legal studies; Paul Jackson, professor of geography; and Kent Messer, professor of applied economics.

The Ambassadors were encouraged by the positive response to the event and said they may plansimilar panel discussions about other environmental issues in addition to their more traditional events such as tree plantings, art competitions, and an Earth Day volunteer opportunity.

By Joy Drohan, Eco-Write, LLC