About our research
This project aims to strengthen the contribution of universities in lower-income countries to addressing the challenge of climate change.
The role of research and innovation in this task is widely acknowledged, and universities around the world are closely involved in the tasks of monitoring, interpreting and responding to the process and effects of global warming. Yet the broader role of universities in addressing the climate crisis is as yet under-researched. How do courses provided by universities address the question of climate change, and what forms of climate-related learning do students engage with on campus and beyond? What impacts do universities have on climate change through community engagement activities, in fostering public debate on the issue and in the way they embody the principles of sustainability in their own institutional forms?
These roles of universities beyond knowledge production are critical in addressing climate change, given the deep social, political and economic roots of the crisis, and the need to engage with professional development, civic action and public awareness. At the same time, it is clear that despite the potentialities of universities in this regard, much more could be done. This is particularly the case in low and middle-income countries in which there is disproportionate impact of the most devastating effects of climate change.
This project addresses these questions in the context of the higher education systems of Brazil, Fiji, Kenya and Mozambique. These countries have been selected on account of the vulnerability of their populations to climate-related disasters, but also because of the potentialities of their higher education systems for responding to the challenges, and in generating learning that can be utilised in other contexts. The countries have distinct features in relation to their culture, politics, economics and geography, as well as in their higher education systems, which will allow for significant possibilities of learning across the four countries and with the UK.
Work Package 1 |
Systems of Higher Education
Work Package 1 aims to understand current dynamics in the higher education systems in each of the four partner countries in relation to climate change. It will include a national focus, through a rigorous literature review of existing studies on higher education and climate change in each country, analysis of secondary data such as enrolment figures, and analysis of relevant national policy frameworks. At the institutional level, a large-scale quantitative survey will also be conducted of 1000 university students and 100 lecturers in the three participating institutions in each of the four countries, to explore attitudes and practices relating to climate change. Qualitative methods will support the findings of this survey, through analysing curricula and conducting key informant interviews.
These methods together aim to answer research sub-questions of: how climate change is represented within institutional dynamics; what interactions, synergies or conflict exist; and how ideas within universities around climate change are generated and by whom.