In the lead-up to the 2009 United Nations climate change negotiations, universities around the world held climate change ‘teach-ins’ or events to raise awareness about climate change. UMass Lowell joined this effort, holding our first annual Climate Change Teach-In October 2009. The event brought together students and faculty members from across campus to learn about a topic that, at the time, was rarely taught. Perhaps more importantly, it was designed to engage the campus and to spark a conversation about what UMass Lowell would do next on climate.
The small group of faculty members who designed and spoke at the event held a meeting to debrief the Teach-In in December 2009. A simple question was raised: do we celebrate a successful event and move on? Or is this a beginning and an opportunity to leverage what we sensed was momentum towards a new initiative? There was a clear and unanimous decision to move forward and form the Climate Change Initiative. From its inception, the CCI was committed to bringing together the diverse perspectives and insights of faculty from across the academic spectrum together in order to learn from each other and, in doing so, foster a more effective, evidence-based transition to a sustainable, resilient, and equitable society.
Since its foundation in 2010, the CCI has become an award-winning University Center with more than 30 faculty members drawn from 13 academic departments across diverse disciplines from all sides of the academy. CCI faculty engage almost a third of UMass Lowell’s students through our instructional and research activities. We collaborate with each other on research, teaching, and outreach activities, using a systems thinking framework to explore the interactions between our disciplinary areas and forge new areas of scholarly work. We work actively to ensure the relevance of our scholarly work to society through our relationships with citizens, community organizations, and policymakers.