The world’s first Bachelor of Climate Change degree has been launched by the University of Waikato, delivering graduates that will lead future climate change solutions, as New Zealand works to meet its target of net zero emissions by 2050.
The three-year degree is the first of its kind in the world, combining scientific knowledge with understanding of economic, social and political systems and Māori and Pacific responses to climate change.
University of Waikato Dean of Science, Professor Margaret Barbour, says as Aotearoa and the world works towards a target of net zero emissions by 2050, our future depends on how we respond to the challenge of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and how we adapt to environmental change.
“While climate change is an incredibly complex problem, the solution is very simple – globally, we need to stop emitting greenhouse gases. This requires a fundamental shift in the way we do business and go about our lives, with careful consideration of inequalities in impacts,” says Professor Barbour.
Assistant Vice-Chancellor Sustainability, Professor Lynda Johnston, says as a guiding principle the University of Waikato benchmarks itself against the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGS). “To mark the launch of this important degree, today we commit to reducing our energy use and greenhouse gas emissions and to work towards being a carbon neutral university by 2030.”
The University recognised climate change could not be addressed from within the traditional disciplinary silos, so it launched the degree, starting in 2022, with the intention of creating a common language and shared understanding of climate change.
“Waikato’s researchers already have a proud history of addressing climate change from their exploratory work in agricultural greenhouse gases to examining political, social and economic systems and understanding the impacts of sea level rise and extreme weather events,” says Professor Barbour.
“The Bachelor of Climate Change brings together this collective expertise across all the disciplines creating a common language in the fight against the globe’s most pressing environmental issue.”
Seven core papers form the basis of the degree which culminates in a third-year group project, where students will come together to work with a company, iwi or community group to solve a real climate change problem.
“Mātauranga Māori (Māori knowledge) is woven through the qualification, requiring holistic thinking and a recognition that humans are part of the natural world not above it. He oranga taiao, he oranga tangata.
“Graduates with a Bachelor of Climate Change will lead future climate change solutions through an ability to think critically across science, arts, management and social sciences disciplines, and do so with cultural competency,” says Professor Barbour.
Professor Barbour says students with the qualification will be in demand across Aotearoa and the world as we work towards the target of net zero emissions by 2050.
The Bachelor of Climate Change was launched at an online event today attended by Minister for Climate Change James Shaw and other dignitaries.
Students with University Entrance can enrol directly into year one of the Bachelor of Climate Change, the first official intake starting in 2022.
Find out more here.