The University of Waikato launches the Bachelor of Climate Change degree. During its online launching due to the Covid-19 pandemic in September 2021, Dr Sarah-Jane Tiakiwai, Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Māori and the event’s emcee, claimed the New Zealand university-based course is the world’s first.
According to Tiakiwai, the degree will deliver graduates who will lead future climate change solutions as New Zealand works to meet its Net Zero emission targets by 2050.
The course commences in 2022.
Why study climate change?
Climate change is a pressing issue facing our society today and in the future.
The burning of fossil fuels for electricity, heat and transportation releases CO2, trapping the heat in our atmosphere.
Over the last century, the massive increase in GHG emissions has caused the temperature to rise, fueling climate disasters such as floods, heatwaves, droughts, and storms and making them more frequent and intense.
Warmer temperatures are melting glaciers and ice sheets and contributing to sea-level rise. The ocean absorbs most of the excess heat from the GHG emissions leading to rising ocean temperatures, and warming oceans affects marine life and ecosystems, causing coral bleaching and the loss of breeding grounds for marine fishes and mammals.
These are just some of the observed impacts of the changing climate. Climate scientist warns that humanity is running out f time to cut emissions if we are to avoid a climate catastrophe.
Climate change is gaining prominence in research, newspapers, and media, and people have to increase their climate literacy. Understanding what climate change is, what is causing it, its impacts, and how to prevent and adapt to its effects is key to addressing it.
The University of Waikato website states that the Bachelor of Climate Change degree “combines scientific knowledge and an understanding of people, economic, and political systems, including the impacts on Māori, Pacific and Indigenous communities”.
A quick search online reveals several climate change-related courses from universities worldwide. See examples below:
- Bachelor of Environmental Science with Honors from the University of Canterbury, New Zealand
- Certificate in climate change causes, impacts, and solutions offered by San Francisco State University
- Climate Science, BSc from Durham University, United Kingdom
- Climate Change, BSc Hons from the University of Greenwich
- Environmental Science- Bachelor of Science from Massey University, University of New Zealand
- BSc (Hons) Climate Change from the Liverpool John Moores University
- Bachelor of Climate Science and Adaptation from the University of Newcastle, Australia
- Bachelor in Sustainable Environmental Management from York University
- Bachelor in Climate & Supply Engineering from VIA University in Denmark
The type of careers that focus on the climate crisis issue is growing too. Kaplan International Pathways identifies seven degrees to enter a job in climate change:
- Environmental Engineering;
- Climate Change Science;
- Earth Science, Environmental Geoscience and Environmental Geography;
- Agriculture; and
Extracting and using fossil fuels, the root cause of climate change, will not end right away as it is not feasible to do so. However, we will gradually need to displace it with low carbon alternatives and ramp up renewable energy production.
The transition to clean energy is key to stabilising the climate. Developing solutions to tackle climate change will need everyone from scientists, engineers, politicians, and community members and leaders.
The video below features Waikato University’s Bachelor of Climate Change degree.
New in 2022 – Bachelor of Climate Change. The University of Waikato. Retrieved from https://www.waikato.ac.nz/study/campaigns/bachelor-of-climate-change
Mapped: How climate change affects extreme weather around the world. (2021, February 25). Carbon Brief. Retrieved from https://www.carbonbrief.org/mapped-how-climate-change-affects-extreme-weather-around-the-world
Homden, B. (2021 January 27). The 7 best degrees for a career in climate change. Kaplan International Pathways. Retrieved from https://www.kaplanpathways.com/blog/the-7-best-degrees-for-a-career-in-climate-change/