The Southwestern Pennsylvania Program for Deliberative Democracy

Climate Change and the Campus (September/October 2012)

Universities can play a particularly valuable role in addressing climate change. As “mini-cities” they can account for a large percentage of a community’s greenhouse gas emissions. The energy used each day by thousands of students and employees to commute, to heat and cool buildings, to power sophisticated lab equipment, to light perfor­mance spaces and sports facilities, and to power every other function of a university all adds up to create a large “carbon footprint.”

But colleges and universities are also relatively free to set policies to manage their immediate impact on local environments. They can provide good opportunities to promote stewardship and innovation. Moreover, as an economic engine, an incubator of innovation, and as a resource for research, education, and community outreach, colleges and universities can also have an influence on public policy.

Thus the policies and practices adopted at a college or university can be expected to affect change at the personal and local level, perhaps influencing policy at the regional leve as well. Finally, through education and research, our colleges and universities can develop the leaders, strategies, and relationships capable of influencing policies and practices at the national and international level.

The following schools will be participating in the project:

Chatham University
Carlow University
Carnegie Mellon
Community College of Allegheny County
Community College of Philadelphia
Duquesne University
Indiana University Bloomington
Stephen F. Austin State University
Metropolitan State University
Penn State Center- Pittsburgh
Point Park University
Robert Morris University
Shippensburg University
Slippery Rock University
SUNY at Cortland
Saint Vincent College
University of Houston
University of Illinois at Chicago
University of Montana
University of Pittsburgh

Schools from Pittsburgh's Higher Education Climate Consortium will be participating in a single event on September 29th at Carnegie Mellon.

General Background Document

The main resource document for these events seeks to provide a common background for all those wishing to host a campus conversation (recommended forl moderators, expert panelists, key organizers, and those who wish their classes to become well versed in the issue). It is divided into three main sections: 1) How the scientific community understands the issue of climate change and how a peer review consensus has a emerged regarding the fact of climate change and the casuses of climate change; 2) the consequences of climate change and 3) climate change and the campus.

The document can be downloaded as a complete file or in sections:

Complete file: Climate Change and the Campus

Section 1: The Science of Climate Change

Section 2: The Impact of Climate Change

Section 3: Climate Change and the Campus

Handbook and Guidelines

General guidelines for schools interested in developing and hosting this event can be found in the Resouces Section of Carnegie Mellon's Campus Conversations program. Here you will find a "Campus Conversation Handbook" along with a "Coordinator's Toolkit" containing sample emails, forms, and training materials.

A sample 10-12 page Discussion Guide is available to provide a template for campuses to use when customzing the materials that participants will study in preparation for the deliberation. We distinguish these from the larger 30-page General Background Document above (see the Qatar Flyer for a an example of a 2-page Discussion Guide).

CMU Qatar, November 2011

The first use of the newly developed materials took place in Qatar’s Education City. A campus-specifc 2-page Discussion Guide on the "Impact of Climate Change on Food Securit"y was used to focus the conversation and the event itself was featured on the Carnegie Mellon Qatar website. A Final Report is now available, based on the pre-survey and post-survey.


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