UC Davis has many climate action champions, among them four who stand out for the 2015-16 academic year.
First, we have Kurt Kornbluth, founding director of the Program for International Energy Technology (PIET) Lab and an assistant adjunct professor in the Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering, as our Faculty Action Climate Champion.
He’s one of 10 such champions around the UC system, one for each campus, in accordance with UC President Janet Napolitano’s Faculty Climate Action Champion Program, offering incentives and support for faculty engagement in climate change research, teaching and engagement.
Napolitano directed each campus to choose a Faculty Action Climate Champion, and provided for each champion a $25,000 award (for a project with students) and for each campus $5,000 for events and other programming costs connected with the campus champion’s work.
“The awards provide institutional support for one exceptional faculty member to deepen climate change teaching and research on each campus,” Napolitano said in a letter to the chancellors. “Selected champions and their projects are intended to help meet and focus student demand for climate action and education. The champions should also inspire a wider range of faculty to take up the challenge of engaged research and education to achieve carbon neutrality."
UC Davis went a step further, by providing its own funding for a second climate champion proposal. It was submitted by Claire Napawan, assistant professor, landscape architecture and environmental design, and two collaborators: Sheryl-Ann Simpson, assistant professor, human ecology (specializing in urban studies); and Brett Snyder, assistant professor, design.
While Kornbluth is a champion on the technological side of climate change (he’s using his grant to advance the work of the PIET Lab toward campus carbon neutrality), Napawan, Simpson and Snyder are champions on a project that aims to increase public understanding of climate change.
“We can’t create climate change until we acknowledge that change needs to be societal as well as technological,” said Carolyn Thomas, vice provost dean of Undergraduate Education.
“The amazing research and development taking place in technological fields must be complemented by our increased awareness that unless we understand our communities and why people choose to use energy or transportation in certain ways, efforts to ameliorate climate change may be unsuccessful.
“UC Davis leadership recognizes that, and has made it possible to offer an award focused on developing public understanding of the immediacy of climate change, and a sense of engagement.”
The campus funding amounts to $25,000, provided by Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Ralph J. Hexter, the Office of Research, and the deans of the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, and Humanities, Arts and Cultural Studies.