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Conference 2023

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Conference on higher education and the climate crisis

Senate House, London, Thursday, 19 October 2023



Universities are heavily implicated in the climate crisis as historical drivers of industrialisation, consumerism and colonialism. Yet they are also central to the transformation of societies, through their unique role in professional development, knowledge production and public debate. While there has been increasing attention to the active role universities can play in recent years, and many institutions have made commitments to achieving carbon neutrality, there is still a significant knowledge gap. This one-day conference provides a space for debate, exchange of ideas and sharing of new research on diverse aspects of the higher education-climate crisis link.                                                                                          

The conference is being convened by Climate-U (Transforming Universities for a Changing Climate), a Global Challenges Research Fund project led by University College London, in partnership with University of Passo Fundo (Brazil), Kenyatta University (Kenya) and University of the South Pacific (Fiji).

The conference is an in-person event, to be held at the University of London Senate House, in Bloomsbury, London, and is free of charge. Attendance is open to all, and proposals are sought from researchers, practitioners, students and activists working in this field.

General enquiries can be directed to Climate-U Principal Investigator Prof Tristan McCowan ( or Research Fellow Dr Charlotte Nussey (


Higher Education and the Climate Crisis


Thursday, 19th October, 2023
Woburn Suite, Senate House, Malet St, London, WC1E 7H

09.00 - 10:00              |     Registration and refreshments, accompanied by poster session & artistic engagements                                                  with the climate crisis (listed below)     

10.00 - 10:15                |     Welcome and opening remarks from Jane Holder (UCL)

10.15 - 11:00                 |     Keynote address by Fatima Denton (United Nations University): “Beyond politics:                                                             academic courage, leadership, and scientific integrity in climate change”

11.00-11.15                    |      Break

11.15-12.15                     |      Parallel Sessions 1

Room G22
Curricular innovations & teacher education for the climate

Room G21
Institutional arrangements for the climate crisis

Room G16
Scientists as activists? New understandings of academia

Room G5
Universities and socio-political conditions around climate

Ross Purves (UCL):

Introducing climate and sustainability education to a programme of secondary music initial teacher education: a pilot workshop.

Jasmin Cooper

(Imperial College London):

Assessing the emissions of a chemical engineering department

Briony Latter

(Cardiff University):

Overworked and disempowered, yet keen to contribute: researchers' perceptions of climate action in UK universities

Noel Longhurst

(University of East Anglia):

The challenging politics of transformative climate education

Luciana Brandli & Amanda Lange Salvia

(University of Passo Fundo):

Brazil’s first Green Office: increased student engagement and climate training opportunities

Salomão Hage

(Federal University of Pará):

Territorial Governance Collectives in the Amazon: Instrument of formation, production of knowledge and intervention for the climatic justice

Kathy Chandler

(The Open Univeristy):

On the diffused boundaries of climate education 

Sam Finnerty


Scientists as activists: examining the intersection between climate advocacy, activism, and scientist identity

Betzabe Torres Olave

 (University of Leeds):

Critical pedagogies for science and environmental literacies: reading and transforming science curriculum for climate concientisation

Muna Aminath (University of Bristol) & Zeeniya Kamil, (Maldives National University):

‘Change makers’: The potential of institutions of higher education in the transition towards sustainability in the Maldives

Aaron Thierry

(Cardiff University):

“No research on a dead planet”: Preserving the socio-ecological conditions for academia

Farshad Amiraslani

(Ulster University):

Engaging Undergraduate Students in International Climate Negotiations

Mirzi L. Betasolo

(PNG Institute of Technology):

Engineering Practices and Sustainability Class Experiences in the School of Engineering of Papua New Guinea University of Technology

Charlotte Nussey &

Lorena Sanchez


Activists, advocates, actors? Constructions of ‘expertise’ in academics’ engagements with ‘climate’

12.15-12.3o                 |       Break

12.30-13.30                |       Parallel Sessions 2

Room G22
New Learnings

Room G21
Climate action and ecologies of knowledge

Room G16
Radical Transformations

Room G5

Anna Pigott

(Swansea University):

Seeing and feeling the climate crisis: creating moments of affective connection in higher education

John Muchiri

(Kenya Methodist University):

The role of indigenous Knowledge in addressing Climate Change: Kenyan Story of the Njuri Ncheke

John Barry

(Queens University Belfast)

The role and responsibility of academia in the context of the planetary crisis – or what is to be done?

Gwyneth Hughes


A climate change curriculum for all disciplines: programme directors’ development needs and expectations

Almas Mazigo

(University of Dar es Salaam):

Managing epistemic injustices and mobilizing local knowledge for climate action in Somanga and Songosongo villages in Tanzania

Susan Brown

(University of Manchester)

Reconceptualising flexible learning as a pedagogical response to ecological crises

Mark Newman


Reclaiming the University as an Institution for Planet and Public Health and Equity

Tracey Harjatanaya, Dorothy Ferary and Irfan Sarhindi

(ST Bhinneka):

Developing an Education for Sustainable Development Curriculum at Satya Terra Bhinneka University

Sowmya Balasubramaniam

(Tata Institute for Social Sciences, Mumbai):

Following and listening to seeds: a posthumanist action research story

Bibhu Nayak

(Tata Institute for Social Sciences, Hyderabad):

Higher Education on climate change through an interdisciplinary lens: priorities to enable future research, policy & practice in India

Sonia Schwendler

(Federal University of Paraná):

Participatory Action Research: the climate emergency and its relationship with education, law, public health and the environment

Amanda Rehbein

(University of São Paulo):

Targeting climate change through Multidisciplinary Participatory Action Research at the University of Sao Paulo

Luís Alipío Gomes

(Federal University of Western Pará)

Challenges of a circular ecological bioeconomy in the Tapajós-Arapiuns Resex: a study of

case in the community of Anã

Gonzalo Guerrero


Progressive Neo-extractivism in Latin America and Opportunities for Pro-ecojustice Assemblages

Michael Hrebeniak


The New School of the Anthropecene

13.30 - 14:30                |       Lunch and Coffee   

14.30 - 15:30                |       Interactive Workshops

Room G22
Decoupling Universities from the Fossil Fuel Industry

Facilitated by Lynn Bjerke (ICR), Shana Sullivan (UCL) and Tristram Wyatt (UCL)

Room G16
Examining HE educators’ agency to ‘teach the crisis’: reflecting on capabilities and conversion factors

Facilitated by Melissa Glackin (KCL), Kate Greer (UCL), Heather King (KCL) and John Owens (KCL)

Room G5
Plant-based Universities

Facilitated by Michelle Farnham

15.30 - 17:00             |        Higher Education and the Climate Crisis – looking forward

                                               Farai Kapfudzaruwa (University of Pretoria), Chris Rapley (University College London),                                                  Sonia Schwendler (Federal University of Parana) and Leon Tikly (University of Bristol)

Artistic Contributions

  • Neal Haddaway: ‘Duty Bound’

  • Roslyn Taplin: ‘Jambreen’

  • Lucy Hogarth: ‘Falling from Space’

  • Simran Patel: ‘Fossil Free Imperial’ 

Poster Presentations

  • ‘The Cavendish Living Lab – Making our campus sustainable’ (Pooja Basnett)

  • Imperial Climate Action

  • ‘Challenges and opportunities for student engagement on climate-related initiatives: a qualitative case study at University of Passo Fundo’ (Luciana Londero Brandli, Giovana Reginatto, Pedro Henrique Carretta Diniz, Amanda Lange Salvia)

  • ‘Climate change practices, experiences and attitudes: results of the Climate-U survey at University of Passo Fundo’ (Luciana Londero Brandli, Amanda Lange Salvia, Janaina Mazutti, Giovana Reginatto)

  • ‘Lessons from the Classroom’ (Kate Christopher and Megan Murray-Pepper)

  • The Climate Literacy Project (Anna Romachney)

  • Challenges of an ecological and circular bioeconomy in the Tapajós Arapiuns Resex: A case study in Aña Village (Tânia Suely Azevedo Brasileiro and Luís Alípio Gomes)

  • Developing an Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) Module at Satya Terra Bhinneka University (Tracey Yani Harjatanaya, Dorothy Ferary, Irfan Sarhindi, Rinrin Meilani Salim)

  • Climate change and sustainable development in Higher Education in India: priorities and challenges in taking an interdisciplinary lens (Bibhu P. Nayak and Suparana Katyaini)

  • Interdisciplinary participatory action research (PAR) on climate change at the University of São Paulo (Tercio Ambrizzi and Amanda Rehbein)

Poster Session and Artistic Engagement

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