The University of Tasmania could be the perfect home for Global Climate Change Week, and alumni will be in the spotlight at its centrepiece event.
The University ranked third worldwide when the Times Higher Education University Impact Rankings assessed 376 institutions against the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals earlier this year.
The result coincides with the University taking stewardship of the fast-growing Global Climate Change Week initiative from 2020.
“UTAS really is the perfect home for Global Climate Change Week because we tend to be leaders in the field across operational sustainability in universities - how we manage campuses - and also research,” co-ordinating committee co-chair Dr Kim Beasy said.
“Global Climate Change Week has almost a galvanising effect, bringing all of our disparate parts together.”
Taking place in the third week of October, the initiative aims to bring academic communities together to engage with the broader population on a problem still as pressing as COVID-19.
Started five years ago by two academics at the University of Wollongong, the week will feature nearly 200 public lectures, panel discussions and arts activities on almost every continent.
“We have universities from all over the world registered on the site at the moment and a whole range of diverse and interesting activities that are limited only by the imaginations of the people involved,” co-chair Professor Fred Gale said.
“We want to make sure there is action on climate change around the world at university level. It’s a critical issue. We’ve got a decade to turn this around.”
A range of activities will take place around the University of Tasmania, including the online webinar Living in a Changing Climate with an all-alumni panel of criminologist Prof Rob White, human geographer Dr Kate Booth, physical geographer Dr Vishnu Prahalad and chair Christine Milne.
Event organiser Dr Booth said the presentation of the University’s research would allow audience members to make up their own minds on the issue.
“The foregrounding of scientific knowledge is really important in the climate change debate and climate change action,” she said.
“There’s also another role for academics in this context to articulate, provide language, for understanding different phenomena and ideas and debates, to provide people with insights that allow them to unpack what’s going on around them in public debate.”
The University has agreed to be home to the week for the next five years.
“There’s a real need for community in this space,” Dr Beasy said.
“Academics often work in isolation, but this has the potential to become a community for academics to come together and work towards climate action.
“It’s providing a space and a network to know that we’re in it together.”