Every first-year student at Baruch is now talking about climate change as part of their introduction to the College—all “because of five undergraduate Climate Scholars,” says Mindy Engle-Friedman, PhD, chair of the Baruch College Task Force on Sustainability and associate professor of psychology.
Dr. Engle-Friedman and seven other members of the Baruch Climate Change Faculty Seminar (BCCS)—which represents all three of Baruch’s schools—were instrumental in getting a $40,000 CUNY Interdisciplinary Climate Crisis Research Grant to fund the intensive nine-month Baruch Climate Scholars Program. Each Climate Scholar receives a $5,000 stipend and a $900 conference travel allowance.
The Climate Scholars participate in twice-weekly faculty- and guest-led seminars, three months of cross-disciplinary research in one of five climate research labs, and a two-month internship. They also present their scholarship and engage students in conversation about local climate impacts and strategies for mitigation and resilience. So far the scholars have reached out to Baruch’s First Year Seminar classes as well as middle and high school students in the Baruch STEP (Science and Technology Entry Program) Academy. That outreach helps prepare the next generation of students to have conversations about climate change in their classrooms and begin to think about climate careers.
For its first cohort, the BCCS chose students based on academics, diversity, and commitment to climate change education and careers. The undergraduates, who are majoring in economics, entrepreneurship, finance, journalism, and public policy, explore climate issues through the lens of the natural sciences, psychology, business, public policy, migration, and communication.
Four of the five Climate Scholars are students of color. “We know that the climate change professions lack diversity. That’s really a problem,” explains Engle-Friedman, “because we want to be sure all students have access to the opportunities that climate change poses and because communities of color will be maximally disadvantaged by climate change impacts.”
Engle-Friedman praises the “magnificent group” that comprises the Climate Scholars cohort, adding that she hopes to scale up the program. “It is a model for what can be done at Baruch, CUNY, and beyond.”