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Working Paper Series


No. 22

Challenges of an Ecological and Circular Bio-Economy in the Brazilian Amazon: A Case Study in Anã Village


By Tânia Suely Azevedo Brasileiro, Luís Alípio Gomes, Klaudia Yared Sadala, Adriane Panduro Gama, Luciandro Tássio Ribeiro de Souza, Elian Mara Sousa Carvalho, Danilo Duarte Godinho, Aline Sousa Cardoso, Elizana dos Santos Amorim, Milena da Silva Godinho, Jander Ferreira Cardoso.

This working paper presents the results of research conducted by the PRÁXIS UFOPA Research Group and the Climate-U project, applying the participatory action research (PAR) methodology. The participating audience included community leaders, elementary and high school students, as well as school teachers and technicians. Questionnaires and interview
scripts were used as instruments to profile the socio-economic context of the community and the perception of climate change by school members. The participatory action methodology applied the Mandala of Knowledge and the Affection MapGenerating Tool. The results enabled mapping of the students’ and teachers´ perceptions of climate change and identify their feelings about the place where they live. Through beekeeping for honey extraction, fish farming, community-based tourism, and handicrafts, the community members believe they are contributing to the sustainable development of their territory. These activities adhere to the principles of ecological and circular bioeconomy, not only generating income but also impacting biodiversity, contributing to climate change mitigation, and preserving the standing forest.


Suggested citation 

Brasileiro, T., Gomes, L., Sadala, K., Gama, A., de Souza, L., Carvalho, E., Godinho, D., Cardoso, A., Amorim, E., Godhinho, M., Cardoso, J. (2024) Challenges of an Ecological and Circular Bio- Economy in The Brazilian Amazon:
A Case Study in Anã Village. Transforming Universities for a Changing Climate, Working Paper Series No. 22.

ISSN 2754-0308

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No. 21

Empowering young students in climate justice: the design,
implementation and outcomes of a ‘Climate Detective’ toolkit


By Sylmara Lopes Francelino Gonçalves Dias, Ana Beatriz Nestlehner Cardoso de Almeida, Amanda Cseh, Isabela Cavaco,
and Aline Gomes

The impacts of climate change hit hardest the most vulnerable populations across all global territories Studies have demonstrated that climate change disproportionately exposes children and adolescents to multiple risks. Considering the school as the epicentre of social change in its territory, we designed participatory action research (PAR) and citizen science in a middle/ high school in Ribeira Valley, São Paulo State, Brazil. The aim of this working paper is to present the methodological design process, implementation, and outcomes of the development of a toolkit for climate justice education. To achieve this aim, the research explored how dialogical and meaningful learning can contribute to climate justice education so as to: support students’ understanding of their territorial vulnerability and spatial inequalities; enhance scientific knowledge co-creation about climate justice; empower students to act for climate justice; and promote citizenship practices. The main outcomes were the Climate Detective toolkit co-creation, taking the territory asframework; raising awareness of how vulnerabilities are amplified by extreme climate events; filling information gaps with data collected by students; and empowering students through citizen science.

Suggested citation 

Dias, S., de Almeida, A. , Cseh, A., Cavaco, I. and Gomes, A. (2023) Empowering young students in climate justice: the design, implementation and outcomes of a ‘Climate Detective’ toolkit. Transforming Universities for a Changing Climate, Working Paper Series No. 21

ISSN 2754-0308

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No. 20

Unlocking and supporting community-led climate actions in the coastal communities of Tanzania


By Almas Mazigo, Emiliana Mwita, Maregesi Machumu and Jovitha Mayenga

The participatory action research (PAR) project involved university researchers, students and members of coastal communities of Somanga and Songosongo, Tanzania. The PAR members endeavored to establish spaces for knowledge-based and action-based learning about climate change and the promotion of climate justice and for co-designing and implementing culturally sensitive climate actions. The team examined the negative effects of climate change on the coastal and marine ecosystem and on people’s livelihood opportunities, and established that coral reefs and mangroves were under great threat as a result of natural and human factors. Accordingly, the PAR members resolved to (i) transplant corals to support reef restoration, (i) plant and care for mangroves for regeneration of coastal land, and (iii) conduct a climate change awareness campaign targeting primary school pupils. Getting their inspiration from their indigenous values system and utilizing their local climate change knowledge and the innovative ideas of community members, the PAR members successfully transplanted 6918 corals, planted 17,735 mangroves, and inspired pupils to plant and care for 60 trees. Other indicative outcomes and impacts of the PAR are increase in knowledge and skills in climate actions of community members; and enhanced awareness of climate justice and sense of agency in university researchers and students.

Suggested citation 

Mazigo, A., Mwita, E., Machumu, M., Mayenga, J. (2023) Unlocking and supporting community-led climate actions in the costal communities of Tanzania. Transforming Universities for a Changing Climate, Working Paper Series No. 20

ISSN 2754-0308

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No. 18

The Climate Emergency and its Relation to Education, Law and the Environment


By Sônia Fátima Schwendler, Cristina Frutuoso Teixeira, Katya Regina Isaguirre-Torres, Naína Pierri Estades, Julya Naara Mayer Wisniewski, Mariana Ribeiro do Amaral, Sylviane Guilherme, Victoria Hillesheim Garcia e Silva, Vinicius Ricardo Tomal

This working paper discusses the participatory action research project conducted with traditional communities and social movement representatives in Paraná, Brazil. The study employed culture circles and thematic seminars to understand the experiences of populations vulnerable to climate emergencies, rights violations, and explore instances of resistance. The research primarily focused on understanding the impacts of climate change on diverse groups, including rural populations, coast and riverside communities, quilombolas, indigenous people, land reform settlers, and those affected by dams, with an intersectional lens towards women. The outcomes of this study help in understanding the university’s role in epistemic debates on climate change. Furthermore, it allows the joint construction of the concept of climate justice and a social and environmental sustainability agenda.

Suggested citation 

Schwendler, S., Teixera, C. F., Isaguirre-Torres, K. R., Estades, N. P., Wisniewski, J. N. M., do Amaral, M. R., Guilherme, S., Garcia e Silva, V. H., Tomal, V. R. (2023) The Climate Emergency and its Relation to Education, Law and the Environment. Transforming Universities for a Changing Climate, Working Paper Series No. 18

ISSN 2754-0308

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No. 17

Fostering Adaptive Innovation and Climate Action: A Participatory Action Research Study Involving Students, Social Entrepreneurs and Community Actors


By Devisha Sasidevan and Sunil D. Santha

Universities hold a pivotal role in fostering just climate action initiatives by empowering a diverse range of stakeholders in co-designing and implementing strategies. This working paper explores the transformative potential of participatory action research (PAR) in catalysing climate action initiatives within the university ecosystem. Recognizing universities as pivotal hubs for knowledge dissemination and community engagement, this study documents the collaborative journey undertaken to uncover the agency and voices of diverse stakeholders, including students, educators, social entrepreneurs, and local communities. This reflective working paper delves into the PAR we initiated in two villages of Tamil Nadu, India, examining its engagement with praxis, uncovering drivers and barriers within the university’s capacities, and shedding light on the emergent outcomes, both intended and unintended. Through this exploration, we illuminate the potential of universities as drivers of inclusive, participatory, and just climate action, showcasing the importance of decentralised knowledge production and the empowerment of diverse stakeholders in co-designing and implementing sustainable solutions. This paper also focuses on  the influence of action research in enhancing awareness and preparing postgraduate social work students to undertake participatory action research initiatives designed to promote significant climate action initiatives. Furthermore, it highlights the potential of alumni networks and university-affiliated organizations to serve as advocates for climate action.

Suggested citation 

Sasidevan, D. and Santha, S. D. (2023) Fostering Adaptive Innovation and Climate Action: A Participatory Research Study Involving Students, Social Entrepreneurs and Community Actors. Transforming Universities for a Changing Climate, Working Paper Series No. 17

ISSN 2754-0308

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No. 16

Territorial Governance Collectives: Instrument of Formation, Production of Knowledge and Intervention for the Realization of Climate Justice in the Amazon

By Salomão Antônio Mufarrej Hage, Edir Augusto Dias Pereira, Oscar Ferreira Barros, Marcos Vinícius Costa Lima, Waldirene dos Santos Castro, Guiomar Corrêa Tavares, Celso Alexandre de Araújo Ribeiro, and Maria de Nazaré Cunha de Araújo

This working paper presents the findings of the study developed by the Climate-U Network of the Federal University of Pará, with the objective of creating the Territorial Governance Collective (COGTER) of the Tocantins River region of the Amazon. The Collective was formed by leaders of social movements of riverside, quilombola and peasant populations in municipalities from Cametá, Baião, Mocajuba, Oeiras do Pará, Limoeiro do Ajurú and Igarapé Miri; and teachers, students and graduates of the Rural Education, Agronomy, Geography and Pedagogy courses at the Tocantins University Campus of UFPA. It aimed to empower them to defend their territories, and build collective strategies to face environmental impacts and climate change; and demand sustainable measures from companies operating in their territories. The study was developed through participatory action research, which fostered dialogue between the researchers’ academic knowledge and the traditional knowledge of the communities involved; with the use of alternation pedagogy, which made it possible to carry out coordination between the educating of subjects, the production of knowledge and collective intervention, with specific periods that alternate in carrying out activities within the university, called school time; and collective actions in the communities and territories where participants live, work and develop their community practices, called community time.

Suggested citation 

Hage, S.A.M., Pereira, E.A,D, Barros, O.F, Lima, M.V.C, Castro, W, S., Taveres, G.C., Ribeiro, C.A.A., Araújo, M.N.C. (2023)Territorial Governance Collectives: Instrument of Formation, Production of Knowledge and Intervention for the Realization of Climate Justice in the Amazon. Transforming Universities for a Changing Climate, Working Paper Series No. 16

ISSN 2754-0308

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No. 15

Exploring the Carbon Literacy Levels among Smallholder Farmers in Kisii County


By Alfred Anakalo Shitandi, F. Mzee Awuor, Asenath Maobe, Benard Maake, Erick Oyaro and Edgar Marumbu

In recent years, the effects of climate change have significantly degraded agricultural productivity in Africa, thus threatening food security and livelihoods. Farmers who rely entirely on rain-fed agriculture have counted massive losses as weather has become unpredictable with persistent droughts and unprecedented floods, and invasion of pests and diseases. Evidently, this threatens the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 1 and 2 which focus on poverty reduction and food security respectively. Climate change thus increases the pressure on subsistence livelihoods, commercial activities, and food security. Increasing global temperatures cause water to evaporate in larger amounts, which will lead to higher levels of atmospheric water vapour and more frequent, heavy, and intense rains in the coming years. In order to survive the effects of climate change, the smallholder farmers need to develop resilience and proactive mechanisms in relation to farming practices. To realize this, farmers need to understand the effects of climate change on their operations and appreciate that their traditional farming methods have been severely affected by climate change and some of these farming practices may now not be sustainable. In this project, we sought to establish smallholder farmers’ carbon literacy levels in Suneka, Kisii County with a view of leveraging their understanding to develop interventions to curb effects of climate change on their operations, and to build their capacity on resilience farming practices. To this end, this report shares our findings on the information needs of the smallholder farmers in relation to carbon emissions, and the co-design of a digital tool for farmers’ continuous learning on climate change and strategies to curb its effects in the region.

Suggested citation 

Alfred Anakalo Shitandi, F. Mzee Awuor, Asenath Maobe, Benard Maake, Erick Oyaro, Edgar Marumbu. (2023) Exploring the Carbon Literacy Levels among Smallholder Farmers in Kisii County. Transforming Universities for a Changing Climate, Working Paper Series No. 15

ISSN 2754-0308

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No. 19

Five conditions for participatory action research to enhance universities’ contributions to climate justice


By Climate-Uni

This working paper argues that participatory action research (PAR) offers a key pathway by which universities can enhance their contributions to climate justice. PAR has traditionally responded to inequitable social conditions and processes: this paper contributes an expansion of that focus from the margins to the frontlines, in engaging with ecological and climate breakdown. To understand how universities can engage in PAR towards socio-ecological justice, we share five conditions which work as enabling elements for universities’ PAR work. In doing so, we draw on the experiences of fifteen institutions in Brazil, Fiji, Kenya, India, Indonesia and Tanzania participating in the Transforming Universities for a Changing Climate (Climate-U) study, setting up locally generated PAR initiatives in partnership with communities. We argue that these five conditions – equitable partnership, co- production, immersion, agency and transformative institutions – scaffold and guide PAR work and together constitute enabling environment. Each condition is illustrated by fine-grained case studies from these different contexts within the Climate-U network. We see these conditions as necessary (although not sufficient) for the kinds of transformations which universities must undertake to respond to the related challenges of growing social inequalities and the climate crisis.

Suggested citation 

Climate-U (2023). Five conditions for participatory action research to enhance univerisities’ contributions to climate justice. Transforming Universities for a Changing Climate, Working Paper Series No. 19

ISSN 2754-0308

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No. 14

How are universities responding to the challenges of the climate crisis? A systematic review of literature.

By Charlotte Nussey, Lorena Sanchez Tyson, Ketan Dandare, Joy Perry and Tristan McCowan

Universities around the world have significantly expanded their range of activities in response to the climate crisis. Yet these actions are not always supported by an adequate evidence base. This report presents a systematic review of peer-reviewed literature on university actions in response to climate change published in English between 1990 and June 2020 in the Web of Science database. A total of 151 articles fulfilled all of the review criteria, and were synthesised according to five categories: education, knowledge production, community engagement, public debate and campus operations. The review makes two principal contributions: first, through thematic mapping of this published literature, it highlights the concentration of work in the Anglophone Global North, and thematically focused on explorations of education, campus operations and diverse forms of community engagement.  Our search criteria revealed far less published which reflected on the research and public engagement functions of the university.  Second, through synthesis of the substantive findings of empirical studies, it contributes an original typology of change, offering a holistic framework to understand the evidence that we have from these studies of university responses to the climate crisis. This framework highlights the role of universities in developing epistemic, ethical, behavioural, institutional, structural and atmospheric responses to the crisis.

Suggested citation 

Nussey, C., Sanchez Tyson, L., Dandare, K., Perry, J. and McCowan, T. (2023) How are universities responding to the challenges of the climate crisis?  A systematic review of literature. Transforming Universities for a Changing Climate, Working Paper Series No. 14

ISSN 2754-0308

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No. 13

Researcher Positionality in Participatory Action Research:

Climate Justice for Indigenous Communities


By Kaori Kitagawa

This paper discusses researcher positionality in the studies of indigenous communities in the context of the Transforming Universities for a Changing Climate project. The paper is specifically associated with the project’s participatory action research strand, which aims to design and implement interventions relating to mitigation and adaptation to climate change, involving local communities and universities in the countries. Despite an increase in the number of social scientists engaging in climate-change-related research, discussion on researcher positionality is still limited. The paper intends to fill this gap by analysing the empirical data collected from partner researchers who were asked about their own positionalities. Utilising the ‘four hyphen-spaces’ framework proposed by Cunliffe and Karunanayake, the paper identifies commonalities and variations in terms of the researchers’ reflections on their positionalities. The paper concludes by addressing the complex aspects of ‘insiderness’ that have implications for participatory action research.

Suggested citation 

Kitagawa, K (2023) Researcher Positionality in Participatory Action Research: Climate Justice for Indigenous Communities, Transforming Universities for a Changing Climate, Working Paper Series No. 13

ISSN 2754-0308

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No. 12

Higher Education Climate Action: The Case of Kenyatta University


By Jackline Nyerere, Jeremy Munene Kaburu, Godwin Opinde, Purity Muthoni, Rachel Okinyi, Wilson Mutuma

Climate change is the most significant issue affecting societies in the contemporary era. Globally, countries and the international community have recognised the importance of using higher education to address climate change since it provides a platform for learners to engage in in-depth learning in a specific discipline. Higher education can significantly prepare societies for global changes by creating awareness of emerging issues and advocating behavioural change. Universities are introducing degree programmes and subcomponents focusing on climate change. This study’s main aim was to assess the extent to which climate change content is covered in Kenyatta University curricula and campus greening activities and to examine collaborations and partnerships between the university and external organisations on climate action. Additionally, the study examined opportunities and challenges in the university’s involvement in climate action. The study relied on a case study design to ascertain the extent of climate change content coverage in the university’s traditional teaching, research and community engagement roles. Purposive sampling was utilised to select respondents. Respondents included deans of schools (faculties) at Kenyatta University and policymakers from external organisations. A total of 16 respondents participated in the study. Data was collected using semi-structured interviews. A review of education and policies provided additional secondary data. Thematic analysis was used to identify recurring themes and patterns in the data. Findings reveal that some schools have incorporated climate change content into their programmes. Most campus greening activities are implemented by student clubs domiciled in their respective schools. Kenyatta University has several related collaborations and partnerships to strengthen the institution’s involvement in climate action. This study recommends enhancing existing and instituting new collaborations to develop appropriate courses on climate change, expand research and enhance student and community engagement to bolster sustainability in development projects.

Suggested citation 

Nyerere, J., Kaburu, J. M., Opinde, G., Muthoni, P., Okinyi, R., Mutuma, W. (2023) Higher Education Climate Action: The Case of Kenyatta University. Transforming Universities for a Changing Climate, Working Paper Series No. 12

ISSN 2754-0308

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No. 11

The Role of Indigenous Knowledge in Natural Resource Conservation and Management: The Case of Njuri Ncheke, Council of Elders - Meru, Kenya


By John M. Muchiri, Mworia Mugambi and Patrick Gitonga

Given the importance of natural resource management in climate action, Kenya Methodist University (KeMU) sought to engage with the respected community leaders, known as the Njuri Ncheke, to understand this organization’s contribution to conserving and managing resources among the Meru community. The study was conceived and developed during deliberations by the KeMU participatory action research group (PARG), in Meru, which included stakeholders from the County government, community representatives, the national environmental management agency, university students, and staff. The PARG conceived the need to document some of the indigenous practices in the Meru community that contributed to the sustainable use of natural resources.The study adopted a qualitative study design using semi-structured interviews with members of the Njuri Ncheke selected through snowball sampling. Twelve interviews were conducted, recorded in either Kimeru, English, or Kiswahili, depending on the level of understanding and the interviewee’s age. Data and information were also collected through photography, videography, field notes, and direct site visitations. The results confirmed that Njuri Ncheke directly managed existing natural resources, controlling the community’s use of land, forests, water and other natural resources, reducing overuse, environmental degradation and community conflicts. We conclude that indigenous knowledge plays a significant role in conservation matters and should be considered in a discussion about climate justice and climate change.

Suggested citation 

Muchiri. J. M., Mugambi, M., and Gitonga, P. (2023) The Role of Indigenous Knowledge in Natural Resource Conservartion and Management: The Case of Njuri Ncheke, Council of Elders - Meru, Kenya. Transforming Universities for a Changing Climate, Working Paper Series No. 11

ISSN 2754-0308

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No. 10

Stepping Up or Falling Behind? Students’ Views on Universities and the Climate Crisis


By Climate-U

This report presents the findings from a large-scale survey conducted among undergraduate students in twelve universities in Brazil, Fiji, Mozambique and Kenya. The survey centres on students’ attitudes and experiences in relation to climate change and perceptions of climate action in their universities. To facilitate comparisons, a student home assets index is constructed using principal components analysis (PCA) and environmental attitudes are assessed using the Milfont and Duckitt (2010) reduced-form inventory and estimated using a latent-trait model based on Item Response Theory (IRT). Findings focus on, inter alia, students’ backgrounds and areas of study, their experience, environmental attitudes, understandings and beliefs about climate change, feelings of personal responsibility and engagement with and willingness to participate in climate action as well as students’ assessments of what universities are doing and what they should be doing with regard to climate change. Overall, in all countries, students reported that they were most likely to learn about climate change from internet and social media sources. There is strong consensus that students should be learning more about climate change at their universities and that they are not satisfied with current learning. The report provides indicative evidence for participating universities and others who may be intending to improve their engagement with students on issues relating to climate change and climate justic.

Suggested citation 

Rolleston et al. (2023) Stepping Up or Falling Behind? Students' Views on Universities and the Climate Crisis, Transforming Universities for a Changing Climate, Working Paper Series No. 10

ISSN 2754-0308


No. 9

Climate change in higher education in Fiji: a literature review. 


By Rosiana Kushila Lagi, Filipe Veisa, Apolosa Robaigau, Siniva Laupepa, Kolaia Raisele and Ledua Waqailiti

This review explores the literature available regarding climate change and higher education in Fiji, especially in recognising the importance of learning about climate change for higher education students. The Fiji Climate Change Policy prioritises climate change in higher education but it is not clear what the role of higher education is in responding to climate change, or how to prioritise the capacity building of local communities to be able to prevent and reduce risks associated with climate change.  However, the three main higher education providers – University of Fiji, Fiji National University and the University of the South Pacific – focus on climate change in their learning, teaching and research programmes and more can still be done to improve community response to climate change.  As part of the Transforming Universities for a Changing Climate (Climate-U) research project, this literature review aims to identify what has been done to date and the gaps in the provision of the three higher education providers under study, including their climate change courses and programmes, and to create interventions to improve what is currently offered. It is argued that relevant and well targeted interventions will improve the communities’ capacity to reduce the risks posed by climate change and build a more resilient and safe nation for future generations.

Suggested citation 

Lagi, R, K; Veisa, F; Robaigau, A; Laupepa, S; Raisele, K; Waqailiti, L (2022) Climate change in higher education in Fiji: a literature review, Transforming Universities for a Changing Climate, Working Paper Series No. 9

ISSN 2754-0308

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No. 8

Teaching climate change in the university 


By Tristan McCowan

Climate change presents a series of challenges to those teaching in higher education. While it is crucial to integrate it across all disciplinary areas, there are various constraints stemming from curriculum overload, the complexity of the topic, and its contested and value-based nature. Nevertheless, engaging with the climate crisis can be a driver of positive change in university teaching and learning. This paper explores the potential of climate for pedagogical renewal in higher education through an assessment of three spheres of enquiry: the ontological (interdependence of human beings and the natural environment), epistemological (sources of valid knowledge, academic disciplines and diverse knowledge traditions) and axiological (climate justice, the limits of state authority and the nature of the good life). The teaching of these areas should be underpinned by the complimentary pedagogical foundations of critical questioning and deliberation, leading to a virtuous cycle of deepening of understanding and connection.

Suggested citation 

McCowan, T. (2022) Teaching Climate Change in the University, Transforming Universities for a Changing Climate, Working Paper Series No. 8

ISSN 2754-0308


No. 7

Technical Note: The design and implementation of the Climate-U survey ‘Climate Change – Practices, Experiences and Attitudes’


By Amanda Lange Salvia, Caine Rolleston, Charlotte Nussey, Filipe Veisa, Rachel Okinyi, Rosario Mananze and Tristan McCowan

This technical note outlines the design and implementation of the survey ‘Climate Change – Practices, Experiences and Attitudes’, part of the Transforming Universities for a Changing Climate (Climate-U) research project. The survey was designed to assess students’ experiences, their engagement in climate change action and their attitudes towards environmental issues. Data was collected in twelve universities in Brazil, Fiji, Kenya and Mozambique. In addition to the survey structure, this note also presents the survey pilot and the process of survey implementation, including national sampling strategies and the final achieved sample. This document records the methodological procedures behind the survey and is a reference for those interested in conducting a related investigation, as well as providing a methodological resource for related Climate-U publications.

Suggested citation 

Salvia, A.L., Rolleston, C., Nussey, C., Veisa, F., Okinyi, R., Mananze, R., McCowan, T. (2022) Technical Note: The design and implementation of the Climate-U survey ‘Climate Change - Practices, Experiences and Attitudes’, Transforming Universities for a Changing Climate, Working Paper Series No. 7

ISSN 2754-0308


No. 6

Climate change in higher education: a curriculum topography approach


By Tristan McCowan 


Learning about climate change is widely recognised as an important outcome for higher education students. However, there is uncertainty as to the best way to incorporate issues of climate into the curriculum, whether as a stand-alone module, through infusion across courses, through interdisciplinary provision, or informal activities. Furthermore, there is resistance in some quarters to introduction of this content, on account of the contested values involved, the overcrowding of the syllabus, and lack of specialist experience. This paper addresses the arguments for including climate change in the higher education curriculum, assessing the different forms of learning needed by citizens and professionals, the role of the university as institution, and the different potential forms of integration. The paper puts forward a proposal for a topography approach, one that sees the role of the university not as teaching climate change, but as curating a diverse environment of learning experiences. The proposed framework sees learning as being distributed across three spaces (classroom, campus and community) and characterised by features of access (availability, voluntariness and continuity), ownership (agency, malleability and certification) and connection (embeddedness, application, disciplinarity, transmodality, collaboration and experientiality). While universities will display diverse topographies depending on their contextual characteristics, there are important normative considerations which must be taken into account, namely: building on students’ existing knowledge, criticality, non-coercion and epistemic pluralism.

Suggested citation 

McCowan, Tristan (2021) Climate Change in Higher Education: a curriculum topography approach, Transforming Universities for a Changing Climate, Working Paper Series No. 6

ISSN 2754-0308


No. 5

Higher Education Institutions Facing Climate Change:
The Brazilian scenario


By Luciana Londero Brandli, Amanda Lange Salvia, Janaína Mazutti, Giovana Reginatto


Climate change is a topic of global concern and demands efforts from all sectors. Higher education institutions have an important role in acting towards sustainability and climate action, not only through their main domain – teaching and learning – but also in opportunities related to research, outreach and campus operations. This working paper focuses on the Brazilian context and presents how climate change has been dealt with in each of the main university dimensions: curricula, research, outreach and operations. It reflects on the main challenges for further action in these dimensions, and suggests future research needs in terms of climate change in universities. This national assessment is useful for a better understanding of the main factors that guide or hinder higher education efforts towards climate action and highlights the importance of climate change research projects to overcome challenges, especially in low- and middle-income countries. Although the Brazilian higher education system can be considered well developed and complex, climate action efforts are diffuse, do not have support from specific and national guidelines, and depend on availability of resources. This working paper proposes a set of recommendations that could apply to other similar contexts that would improve the impact of universities in addressing climate change.

Suggested citation 

Brandli, L.; Salvia, A.L.; Mazutti, J.; Reginatto, G. (2021) Higher Education institutions facing climate change: the Brazilian scenario, Transforming Universities for a Changing Climate, Working Paper Series No. 5

ISSN 2754-0308

Working Paper 3

No. 4

Kenya's climate change policy actions and the response of
higher education 


By Jackline Nyerere, Winniejoy Gatwiri, and Rachel Okinyi


Kenya’s climate pattern is increasingly less reliable, with multiple and overlapping social, health and economic effects. Drawing on national and international policy documents, peer-reviewed journal articles and national climate change reports published between 1999 and 2020, this working paper contributes to our understanding of the policy environment guiding university education in Kenya response to climate change issues. While the working paper discusses some policies in Kenya relating to sustainable development and climate change, many of them drawing on the international goals and agreements, it exposes a gap in guiding universities to respond to the impacts of climate change. There is little research and content on climate change in the Kenyan universities’ curricula, campus activities, institutional governance, and community engagement work. This is partly due to a weak link between national policies, institutional policies, and universities’ activities. Information on climate change responses by universities in Kenya is scanty. Through literature review, the working paper points out some material on sustainable development initiatives in universities and their impact on the society, environment, and economy. The working paper recommends an adjustment of Kenya government policies to better guide higher learning institutions in their role in addressing climate change issues at both campus and community levels.

Suggested citation 

Nyerere, J., Gatwiri, W. and R. Okinyi (2021) Kenya’s climate change policy actions and the response of higher education. Transforming Universities for a Changing Climate, Working Paper Series No. 4

ISSN 2754-0308


No. 3

A protocol for Participatory Action Research into Universities' Role in Climate Justice: Principles and tools


By Alexandre Apsan Frediani & Charlotte Nussey


This protocol aims to explore five parallel sets of principles and tools for developing Participatory Action Research (PAR) with a climate justice lens. It sets out how identifying sites of impact for PAR should be strategic and iterative, building towards a theory of change. In the second step, it explores setting up PAR groups, grounded in ongoing relationships and recognising marginalisation, through different tools for stakeholder analyses. The third part of the protocol describes convening PAR groups, and the process of collective immersion with questions of climate justice, giving an example of a case from Fiji of an ethos for community engagement. In the fourth part of the protocol, action planning is considered, shaped by the principles of recognition of diversity and knowledge co-production. Finally, the centrality of learning in PAR processes is considered, and a framework for monitoring, evaluating and learning is offered. Together, these five steps offer a route for researchers interested in PAR to follow, offering both practical steps and theoretically grounded principles.

Suggested citation 

Climate-U (2021) A Protocol for Participatory Action Research into Climate Justice: Principles
and Tools
Transforming Universities for a Changing Climate Working Paper Series, No. 3.

ISSN 2754-0308


No. 3 - em português

Protocolo para Pesquisa-Ação Participativa sobre o Papel das Universidades para a Justiça Climática: Princípios e Ferramentas


De Alexandre Apsan Frediani & Charlotte Nussey


Este protocolo visa explorar cinco conjuntos paralelos de princípios e ferramentas para desenvolver a Pesquisa-Ação Participativa (PAP) pela perspectiva da justiça climática. O documento estabelece como a identificação dos locais de impacto para a PAP deve ser estratégica e interativa, construindo uma teoria da mudança.  Na segunda etapa, o protocolo explora a criação de grupos PAP, fundamentados em relações já existentes e reconhecendo a marginalização, através de diferentes ferramentas de análise de stakeholders. A terceira parte do protocolo descreve a convocação dos grupos PAP e o processo de imersão coletiva com questões de justiça climática, apresentando um exemplo de processo de envolvimento comunitário nas Ilhas Fiji.  Na quarta parte do protocolo é considerado o planejamento de ações, moldado pelos princípios do reconhecimento da diversidade e da co-produção de conhecimento. Finalmente, é considerada a centralidade da aprendizagem nos processos PAP, e uma estrutura de monitoramento, avaliação e aprendizagem é oferecida. Em conjunto, estas cinco etapas oferecem um caminho a ser seguido pelos pesquisadores interessados em PAP, oferecendo tanto etapas práticas como princípios teoricamente fundamentados.

Sugestão de citação

Climate-U (2021) Protocolo para Pesquisa-Ação Participativa sobre o Papel das Universidades na Justiça Climática: Princípios e Ferramentas. Transforming Universities for a Changing Climate Working Paper Series, No. 3.

ISSN 2754-0308

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No. 2

Connecting disaster risk reduction, climate change and sustainable development

By Kaori Kitagawa


Many authors have critiqued the disconnectedness between disaster risk reduction, climate change and sustainable development. This paper summarises existing arguments as to why and how they should be connected. The paper’s contribution is to develop a comprehensive understanding of disconnectedness and connectedness of these three areas and to reinforce the advantages of connecting them. There are acknowledgements in the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, the Paris Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that they share common goals. The agreements stress mainstreaming disaster risk reduction and climate change mitigation and adaptation in achieving the SDGs through inclusive approaches, capacity building and multi-stakeholder collaborations. However, the achievement so far has been limited due to the challenges of synthesising underlying paradigms as well as efforts of diverse institutions involved. Separation can result in one practice in one field undermining a longer-term aim in another. The key finding of the paper is the deep-seated nature of politics that inhibits the enhancement of the connectedness despite the great benefits of linking the three fields.

Suggested citation 

Kitagawa, Kaori (2021) Connecting disaster risk reduction, climate change and sustainable development, Transforming Universities for a Changing Climate, Working Paper Series No. 2

ISSN 2754-0308

WP 1 Portugese

No. 1

The impact of universities on climate change:
a theoretical framework

By Tristan McCowan


Universities have a crucial role to play in addressing climate change, but the complex and multifaceted nature of the issue presents challenges for the traditional functioning of the institution. While there is a growing body of work on campus sustainability and climate issues in the curriculum, there is a need to understand more holistically the forms of influence that universities have on society and the environment. This paper puts forward a framework for understanding the impact of universities on climate change, involving four stages: the modalities of university action (education, knowledge production, public engagement, service delivery and campus operations); direct engagement with bridging actors; the broader influence on societal understandings and practices; and finally impact on the ecosphere. Specific pathways of impact are identified, involving either mitigation of or adaptation to climate change. This framework serves as an analytical tool to identify the trajectories of impact already in evidence, but also presents normative implications for the role of higher education institutions in addressing the current climate crisis.

Suggested citation 

McCowan, Tristan (2020) The impact of universities on climate change: a theoretical framework. Transforming Universities for a Changing Climate, Working Paper Series No. 1

ISSN 2754-0308

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No. 1- em português

O impacto das universidades nas mudanças climáticas: um enquadramento teórico


De Tristan McCowan


As universidades têm um papel crucial a desempenhar no enfrentamento das mudanças climáticas, mas a natureza complexa e variada da questão apresenta desafios para o funcionamento tradicional das instituições. Embora haja um crescimento nas pesquisas sobre sustentabilidade de infraestrutura e questões climáticas nos currículos, há a necessidade de entender de modo mais abrangente as formas pelas quais as universidades influenciam na sociedade e no meio ambiente. Este trabalho apresenta uma estrutura para a compreensão do impacto das universidades nas mudanças climáticas, envolvendo quatro etapas: as modalidades de ação universitária (educação, produção de conhecimento, engajamento público, prestação de serviços e operação do campus); envolvimento direto com agentes de conexão; a influência mais ampla nos entendimentos e práticas sociais; e, finalmente, impacto na ecosfera. Caminhos específicos de impacto são identificados, envolvendo mitigação ou adaptação às mudanças climáticas. Este documento serve como uma ferramenta analítica para identificar as trajetórias de impacto já em evidência, mas também apresenta implicações normativas para o papel das instituições de educação superior no enfrentamento da atual crise climática.

Sugestão de citação

McCowan, Tristan (2020) O impacto das universidades nas mudanças climáticas: um enquadramento teórico. Transformando Universidades para um Clima em Mudança, Série de Documentos em Trabalho No.1.

ISSN 2754-0308

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