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Year on Climate Change

Illustration showing three students engaged in different sustainable activities

The Year on Climate Change was a collegewide initiative during the 2019–20 academic year to critically examine the complex and urgent issue of climate change. As a college of and for the world, the program was an invitation to the entire Smith community, no matter background or passion, to engage in a manner that was uniquely liberal arts—through deep and authentic collaboration, critical thinking, listening and action. All students, staff, faculty and alumnae were encouraged and invited to create and attend events throughout the year.

An infographic representing the major elements of the Year on Climate Change. During 2019-20, the Year on Climate Change sought to engage the campus community in ways that catalyzed and grew connections between their passions and interests and climate and environmental change. Across the college, the community was galvanized to orient curricular and co-curricular programming toward equipping itself with information and skills to take on the climate change crisis critically, deliberately, and uniquely.

A Year in Review

During 2019-20, the Year on Climate Change sought to engage the campus community in ways that catalyzed and grew connections between their passions and interests and climate and environmental change. Across the college, the community was galvanized to orient curricular and co-curricular programming toward equipping itself with information and skills to take on the climate change crisis critically, deliberately, and uniquely.

Some key events, initiatives, and milestones achieved throughout the year include:

  • The Year on Climate Change Conference, held in October 2019, brought the community together to frame the crisis of climate change as a social justice problem and explore and investigate models of just and equitable solutions in action
  • A plan to divest from fossil fuel investments in the Smith endowment
  • Completion of the District Energy Master Plan
  • A test geothermal well was drilled as a pilot project for implementing a campus-wide ground- source heat exchange system that will help Smith achieve carbon neutrality by 2030
  • Faculty throughout each academic division augmented or added courses that examined the intersection of climate change. Examples include: Architectural Design Studio: Transient Spaces - Terrestrial Bodies, The Bible and the American Public Square, Psychosocial Determinants of Health, Race and the Environment, Engineering for Everyone: Sustainable Water Resource, and Climate and Conflict.
  • The Design Thinking Initiative executed a year-long series of interactive, environmentally focused programming to teach and engage the community on principles of re-use, re- purposing, and human-centered design.
  • As a partner of the Whole Animal Whole Region program, Smith began a multi-year regional whole animal supply chain that sets a fair price and predictable business for local farmers and food processors, advances best sustainability practices for livestock and land management, and fulfills our purchasing needs. In 2020, Smith bought 399 whole animals from local farms.
  • In total, 165 events on campus focused on climate change and were led by numerous departments, units, and student groups

View the schedule from the October 2019 conference (PDF) for details.

News

Big Moves

Smith has long punched above its weight in the fight against climate change. Here’s how.

Cacao In The Greenhouse

Botanic garden staff and student interns set out to discover if they could make one of the most beloved substances on earth.

Takes One To Grow One

When the pandemic pause gave them a chance to reboot, Botanic Garden staff decided to make a long-held tradition as diverse and resilient as students themselves.

Under Construction

The college’s cutting-edge project to convert its aging fossil-fuel-fired steam heating system into a state-of-the-art, electricity-fueled geothermal system took some big steps over the summer, moving Smith closer to achieving carbon neutrality by 2030.

Meet Audrey Cho ’24: Smith’s Udall Scholar

Audrey Cho ’24 is one of 55 college students selected nationally this year from more than 380 applicants for a prestigious Udall Undergraduate Scholarship.

‘Modeling What Carbon Neutrality Really Means’

Smith is acting in the face of the climate crisis. In mid-May, the college will break ground on a bold new infrastructure project—one that will allow Smith to realize its pledge of becoming carbon neutral by 2030.