Climate Change Leadership in Higher Education Institutions
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Over the last decade, climate change has become a critical topic of concern. As a result, organizations, including higher education institutions, are responding by making significant organizational changes. Through a comprehensive survey, along with interviews of individual institutions, this research project seeks to understand how higher education institutions in the U.S. and Canada are restructuring their governance structures in order to respond to climate change. In addition, this analysis investigates commonalities and/or differences between institutions; the roles, responsibilities, and backgrounds of the persons responsible for climate change strategies; and whether climate change issues are being integrated into existing and/or new curriculum. The resulting data show that more than three-quarters of the 160 surveyed institutions have undergone organizational changes related to climate change in the last three years. Yet, the ways in which institutions adapt are quite variable, as each campus must address its own unique characteristics and challenges. Even who is tasked with the responsibility of addressing climate change varies greatly by institution, ranging from university presidents to sustainability coordinators. Nevertheless, some overriding themes are clear. Regardless of who is ultimately accountable for addressing climate change, executives within higher education institutions are actively involved, and can fundamentally alter how campuses perceive and respond to this issue. Additionally, stakeholder relations play a critical role when attempting to implement new climate strategies. This report lays the framework for future collaboration and learning opportunities among campuses, particularly for those institutions that are only in the early stages of addressing climate change.
DepartmentNicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences
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