Submitted on Friday, 12/11/2015, at 11:41 AM

Students create special topics course to study climate policy

From Left: Brian Beaty '17, Andrew Orozco '17, Olivia Voorhis (Pomona College), Olivia Truax '16 and Anna Berglund '16

In typical Amherst fashion, five students were interested in a subject and decided to create their own course to learn more. The special topics course “COP21 and Climate Politics” resulted in extensive research on climate policy and a trip to Paris for the biggest UN climate summit in the last 20 years. 

From coral reef bleaching to the increased frequency of superstorms, it’s hard to ignore the growing concerns about climate change. The goal of COP21 is to craft a legally binding agreement on environmental policies that can keep global warming below 2˚C. Delegates at COP21 grapple with issues of climate finance, sustainable cities, the ethical use of resources and how to share responsibilities between developing and developed countries.

Prior to COP21, each student in the course identified a subject to study in-depth so they could follow discussions on that topic once the summit started. Three students traveled to Paris and obtained ‘observer’ status, which gives them greater access to people and places at the event.

Follow the students on their blog and Facebook page:

The special topics course was co-facilitated by Michelle Stewart, Pick visiting professor of environmental studies, and Laura Draucker, director of sustainability. Amherst provided funds for the students to travel to Paris.