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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Sustainability Ambassadors: Spearheading Student Engagement in Climate Change Education

  • Author(s): Valdes, Tyler
  • et al.

In 2013, University of California President Janet Napolitano announced the Carbon Neutrality Initiative which commited all ten UC campuses to emit net-zero greenhouse gas emissions from its operations including buildings, electricity purchases, and vehicle fleet by 2025. The Carbon Neutrality Initiative resulted in the UC Bending the Curve Report and the Strategic Communication to Achieve Carbon Neutrality within the UC report which both emphasize the importance of communications and education in achieving UC climate goals and global climate stability. Moreover, the UC San Diego Climate Action Plan highlights behavior and institutional change as a key climate change mitigation strategy with a focus on adjusting energy consumption habits. Sponsored by the Carbon Neutrality Initiative, the UC San Diego Sustainability Ambassadors Program is a student organization that aims to raise awareness of campus carbon neutrality efforts and encourage students to implement sustainable living methods. As the University transitioned to online learning, the Sustainability Ambassadors Program centered its focus on utilizing various platforms to remotely educate and engage students with climate change science and UC San Diego’s climate initiatives. Through an online training and survey, the Program also assessed students’ attitudes and beliefs regarding climate change and how the UC San Diego campus is addressing it. Results from the survey informed recommendations for future engagement efforts that can be applied broadly across higher education institutions.

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