About the Year of Climate Action
Academic Year 2022-2023 was Brandeis' first Year of Climate Action
The year was devoted to deepening our understanding of climate change as a social justice issue through our incredible lineup of curricular and co-curricular programming throughout the year.
By the numbers:
- 57 events and programs occurred throughout the year, with a total of 3,300 attendees, the most climate-focused programming ever at Brandeis
- Collaboration with 23 campus partners and 13 external groups on those programs
- 6 new courses with climate in the curriculum, a total of 150 seats for students
- 30 faculty members attended curriculum development workshops, which taught them how to incorporate climate-related topics into their existing courses
- At least 9 faculty updated their existing courses to include climate-related content
Just a few ways the Year of Climate Action has made a difference:
- Trained over 30 faculty in ways to incorporate climate change topics into existing courses, many of whom then implemented changes to their courses this year.
- Established new courses, such as Our Local Waterways, Calculus I using climate data (new section), and the Eco-Anxiety support group, which is being transformed from a counseling center group into an elective course to fulfill Brandeis’ HWL requirement.
- Praised for our far-reaching campus engagement and planning process, insights from which are being applied to similar new initiatives such as the upcoming Brandeis 75th Anniversary.
- Launched the successful pilot and expansion of Brandeis’ sustainable grounds management initiatives.
- Spurred the forthcoming sustainability addendum to the Framework to the Future.
- All 16 students from CAST 150B won the Charles River Watershed Association Young Professionals Award for the projects they created in the course, which was focused as a Design Lab for climate solutions during the year.
- Spurred our first delegation to COP27 in Fall of 2022, and application for observer delegate status to continue to send a delegation of students to COP in the future.
- Over three tons of donated goods were diverted from landfill/incineration and provided to partner organizations through our Give & Go program.
- Hundreds of students, faculty, staff, student families and members of the community saw and interacted with the Rare Climate Culture exhibit, which was on display in the SCC for several weeks before and after Commencement. Over 100 people also participated in the associated study with results forthcoming, titled “The Impact on Attitudes and Beliefs about the Environment from viewing Rare's ‘Shifting the Climate Culture’ exhibits".
In addition to educational opportunities, we launched several institutional initiatives to reduce our climate impacts, from our decarbonization study to organic land management practices, an energy efficiency project database and more.
The Brandeis Decarbonization Action Plan
Together with a team of experts, Brandeis' Capital Programs group began developing a plan to transform energy use, reduce emissions on campus and set the university on a path to carbon neutrality. The team conducted a rigorous assessment of the work needed to transform the campus' heating, cooling, and electricity usage to become fossil fuel free. The resulting study will give Brandeis the analysis and tools needed to commit to new greenhouse gas reduction targets for our scope 1 and scope 2 emissions. Most importantly, the plan will include an adjustable 10-year capital investment and energy procurement strategy that leverages our existing 10-year deferred maintenance plan, augmented with lower-emitting and less energy-intensive solutions. Results from the study are currently under review and will be presented to the Board of Trustees in September 2023.
New organic land management practices
Last summer and fall, Brandeis piloted several organic land management practices. The pilot was successful and is being expanded to a larger area of campus, which is detailed on our new Sustainable Grounds Management page.
New resources for faculty
We created a curated selection of teaching resources for faculty in any discipline to access, and we held two faculty workshops that hosted approximately 30 individual faculty members. These resources can be used at any time, during any academic year.
New energy efficiency project dashboard
Every year, Brandeis conducts multiple energy reduction projects. During the Year of Climate Action, we debuted a new energy efficiency project tracker and dashboard for public visibility. Now, all of our current and some recent energy efficiency projects are detailed for public viewing in GRITS, a project-management web platform, so you can see the energy, financial, and carbon savings data from our campus projects, as well as view a catalog of completed projects from other institutions that have opted into public sharing. New projects will be incorporated into the public catalog and dashboard going forward. To view our projects individually, click the link below, enter your email address if prompted, and select Brandeis in the institution list.
Continuing to measure the carbon footprint of our endowment
In addition to the new initiatives above, Brandeis is continuing to develop a measurement and analysis tool set to measure and disclose the Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions associated with our entire endowment holdings as part of our sustainability goals. This tool set will quantify both our progress and success in reducing the direct and indirect greenhouse emissions associated with our endowment holdings.
Our mission is to catalyze and deepen our understanding of climate change as a social justice issue through curricular and co-curricular programming throughout the year.
- Engage our community in new climate justice and environmental justice programming. We are organizing guest speakers and panel discussions on local environmental justice issues and providing funding through the Intercultural Center for campus clubs to organize their own climate and environmental justice-related programming. We are also creating opportunities for students to learn how to advocate in the state legislative process.
- Activate our students to be climate advocates in whatever career they choose. We are providing faculty with tools to relate their course material to climate action, to help students make the connection with their course of study and future careers. We are also providing a number of programs and opportunities for student training, career resources, platforms for civic engagement, and more.
- Develop campus emissions reduction targets. In summer 2022, Brandeis engaged a team of experts to develop a decarbonization plan that will transform how our campus uses energy, and help us chart a path to carbon neutrality.
Our vision is that this year will be the first of many years of climate action to come.