Climate Week: a summary

Around 100 staff and students came together at the University of St Andrews for the inaugural St Andrews Climate Week from 27-30 May 2024, with the aim of promoting interdisciplinary research and impact addressing the climate crisis. Below is a summary of the week’s events.

The flagship St Andrews Climate Conference featured a series of presentations spanning climate science, classics, philosophy, art history, sustainable development, and oceanography. Attendees were treated to talks exploring the link between volcanically-induced climate change, plague, and the Peloponnesian War; ethical considerations around future generations and green investments; artistic responses to extractive industries; adaptation in African cities; and the role of the ocean in mediating uptake of CO2 and heat, and in future ice sheet melt. A keynote presentation by Prof Thomas Stocker, President of the Oeschger Centre in Bern and former IPCC report chair, highlighted the huge research and societal impact of these high-profile Interdisciplinary initiatives, and their success in attracting major funding. 

The Centre for Ancient Environmental Studies (CAES) hosted an Impact Workshop aimed at exploring the value of environmental history in the modern climate emergency. The event capitalised on the wealth of expertise on premodern environmental studies that already exists in St Andrews and Scotland more broadly. After a morning of presentations featuring an exciting range of social science and humanities research, the afternoon featured stimulating discussions led by a diverse group of climate scientists, historians, and sustainability experts all reflecting on ways to effectively harness historical perspectives, including through our teaching, policy engagement, and messages to popular audiences. A written report on the event and recordings of the two keynote lectures will soon be available on the CAES website.

A two-day Climate Justice workshop, co-hosted by the Centre for Ethics, Philosophy and Public Affairs (CEPPA), addressed questions concerning climate justice, institutional infrastructures, and structural inequalities with short presentations and discussion from scholars from St Andrews and beyond, spanning multiple cultures and disciplines, as well as two public lectures. Connections for future collaborations were made with indigenous scholars from Aotearoa New Zealand and Peru, and a representative of the UNDP (United Nations Development Programme) suggested that scholars from St Andrews may be engaged in an advisory capacity for future UNDP reports. The organisers are now working on two reports based on the workshop proceedings: a general report to be published on the CEPPA website, and a short policy paper to be submitted to the UN ahead of their Summit for the Future in September. 

In addition, a stimulating selection of climate fiction was curated by a team of students and staff and put on display in the University library over the course of Climate Week.

A key aim for the week was to explore potential connections and opportunities in research related to climate change, through a series of networking sessions, with the goal of establishing a more permanent interdisciplinary initiative in climate at St Andrews. We look forward to sharing outputs from this in due course. In the meantime, please do get in touch if you haven’t yet registered your interest and would like to get involved in the work of the Climate Week team!

For more information about the Climate Week programme of events check out this post

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