Yes to teach a unit called Climate Change Science and Impacts, which is part of the MSc in Climate Change Science and Policy and the MSc in Environmental Policy and Management. The idea of this unit is to give an overview of the key things we want students to know about climate science.
So, for example, we look at the greenhouse effect and the impact of human emissions. We consider what climate change has happened in the past and how recent change has been compared to long-term change over thousands of years. We explore what is happening now and to what extent this can be attributed to human action. Then we also look at what we expect to happen in the future and talk about how we can respond to that, both in terms of adjustment and mitigation.
I’ve recently been doing surveys on our online lectures to bring things to life. I also encouraged students to have personal conversations. For example, I will ask if they think they have personally experienced the impacts of climate change. The focus is on methods and evidence, so I ask them what scientific data and methods they could use to predict how climate change could affect their own future. On top of teaching, I research climate change. In particular, I am trying to understand how global warming can affect rainwater systems in Africa. Over the last few years, I have noticed an increase in interest in dealing with the climate crisis, actions like the Friday for the Future movement, led by Greta Thunberg, along with the Extinction Rebellion. I have seen this in my social circle as well and I see that interest and passion in my students. In my previous role, as a researcher and teacher at Oxford University, I was involved in enrolling in an undergraduate geography program. In doing so, I have also seen a growing emphasis on climate change in youth applications.
We need a lot more environmental experts [to address] climate crisis. New jobs and important roles are being created that focus on climate change in the civil service, NGOs and businesses. It is an exciting time for students to study these topics, and it is so important to society. We really need this generation of climate leaders.
As said by Abby Young-Powell
Rachel James is the Director of the Master of Science and Climate Change Policy at the School of Geographical Sciences and the Cabot Institute of the Environment at the University of Bristol.