Taylor Gutierrez / Contributing Writer
The climate crisis has been responsible for many natural catastrophes such as the sea-level rise and drastic temperature changes. In a recent article published by College Magazine, FIU was ranked no.1 nationwide in combating climate change.
College Magazine, an online publication focused on giving college advice, commended FIU for its wide range of majors in the Earth and Environment program.
Co-Director of the Agroecology program, Krish Jayachandran, mentioned a few changes in the degrees offered within the College of Arts, Science and Education (CASE).
“One new thing in our department that we created recently is a Bachelor of Arts sustainability degree. Before that, we only offered a BA degree in environmental studies,” said Jayachandran.
“Along with this sustainability interest, we are seeing an increase in science majors which is definitely a good sign.”
The magazine created a list of the top 10 universities making a difference in the climate crisis.
FIU deserves high praise for addressing climate issues in its curriculum and campus culture, according to the magazine.
The article based its rankings on categories such as student organizations, diversity of degree options, and sustainable practices within the institution. Jillian Delaney, the author of the College Magazine article mentioned that the opportunities in the Earth and Environment program helped FIU gain the top spot on the list.
“Their certificates are extensive over their undergraduate and graduate programs with things like biodiversity conservation and management, environmental studies, or coastal and marine affairs,” stated Delaney.
Over the years, FIU has made significant changes in its science department according to David Bray, professor of environmental science and natural resource management. Bray has made substantial efforts to focus on climate change in the new curriculum.
“When I first came to FIU in 1997, the first social science class on environmental problems was called the ‘Global Environment and Society’. At that time, climate change was just one issue amongst a whole list of environmental problems. As of the Fall of this year, that course will be named ‘Climate Change: The Global Environment and Society.’”
In 2019, FIU’s Earth and Environment department made the decision to actively reduce carbon emissions produced by faculty, both on and off-campus. The department announced that they would limit air travel throughout the 2019-2020 academic year. This idea eventually gained support due to the COVID-19 outbreak. However, the department wanted to be an example of what the university should do to address climate change despite the pandemic.
Another one of FIUs biggest triumphs related to climate change happened in the spring of 2020. Last year, CASE formed a carbon reduction committee. This new board aims to lower carbon emissions by creating reduction plans for different parts of the university, such as academics and operations.
“One of the other things that FIU can pursue is the idea of carbon neutrality. By reducing our carbon emissions and offsetting them at the same time, we could reach net-zero emissions,” Bray explained that this involves reducing the output of carbon in the air to make up for emissions produced elsewhere, creating a balance in the air quality.
FIU faculty have devoted more time and effort to addressing climate change in the last few years. The curriculum has shifted focus on this crisis as it becomes more relevant to the current generation of students. However, some faculty members suggest that efforts should not stop here.
Bray described, “I’m very happy about the attention FIU is getting; all of the good work with teaching and research. I think the department deserves recognition, but FIU as an institution has a long way to go. We should take the ranking of the Earth and Environment Department as inspiration”.