In February 2022, the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issued a report on the perilous and wide-ranging alterations to nature resulting from human-caused climate change. Even incremental increases in global temperature, the report warned, will lead to more diseases, deaths, and disasters, with the repercussions more calamitous for poorer countries than for wealthier ones. Indeed, the communities and places least ready to adapt to a warming world are already dealing with effects of climate change and will continue to face worsening conditions. African nations, as the Washington Post notes, will experience more extreme heat exposure than other areas of the world and will require large investments in adaptation projects. Despite the dire nature of the report, however, scientists say that it is still possible to prevent the planet from becoming uninhabitable. Humans, though, must act now.
From producing cutting-edge research to educating students to understand environmental challenges, institutions of higher education have one of the most important roles to play in tackling climate change and other threats to our planet. Moreover, students, concerned about the future, are leading environmental activism efforts. In this issue’s Research Corner, we look at how current and future college students from around the world view the challenge of climate change and the roles their education and their institutions are playing in sustainability efforts. We also look at how ready educators from around the globe think their institutions are to tackle the challenges ahead. Colleges and universities have always been leaders of scientific innovation and social activism. Those endeavors might be more important now than they have ever been. The very existence of life on Earth is at stake.
Illustrations by Hatiye Garip