University responses to the climate crisis: reviewing the evidence

University responses to the climate crisis: reviewing the evidence


25 Sep 2023    
1:00pm - 2:30pm

Event Type


Monday 25th September 2023, 13.00-14.30 (online)


Chair: Tristan McCowan (University College London)

Presenter: Charlotte Nussey (University College London)

Discussant: Farai Kapfudzaruwa (University of Pretoria) 

Universities around the world have significantly expanded their range of activities in response to the climate crisis. Yet these actions are not always supported by an adequate evidence base. This webinar presents the findings of a systematic review of peer-reviewed literature on university actions in response to climate change, published in English between 1990 and 2020 in the Web of Science database (Nussey, C., Sanchez Tyson, L., Dandare, K., Perry, J. and McCowan, T., forthcoming 2023). It discusses the findings of a critical review of 151 articles, grouped according to five categories of university functions: education, knowledge production, community engagement, public debate and campus operations. 

This webinar discusses two related sets of findings. First, through mapping of this published literature, it highlights the concentration of work in the Anglophone Global North, and thematically focused on explorations of education, campus operations and diverse forms of community engagement. Our search criteria revealed far less published which reflected on the research and public engagement functions of the university, and very little work that centred research from the Global South, or which foregrounded a climate justice lens.

Second, through synthesis of the substantive findings of empirical studies, it contributes an original typology of change, offering a holistic framework to understand the evidence that we have from these studies of university responses to the climate crisis. This framework highlights the role of universities in developing epistemic, ethical, behavioural, institutional, structural and atmospheric responses to the crisis. It reveals the concentration of evidence in measuring epistemic changes, and suggests avenues for future research.

Following the presentation and invited response, there will time for open discussion and debate with the webinar participants. 

This event is open to all those with an interest in the issues under discussion. The event is free to attend, but registration on Eventbrite is required.

Transforming Universities for a Changing Climate is a four-year Global Challenges Research Fund project. For more details about the project, please visit our website, or follow us on Twitter @ClimateUniv.

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