Austin College will send a student delegation to this year’s United Nations Climate Change Conference. These students, known as Austin College Climate Ambassadors, will analyze climate negotiations and actions, share their experiences with the campus, and offer valuable leadership on climate change to our local and regional communities.
The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was established in 1992, providing the mechanism for the annual Conference of the Parties (COP). These conferences are commonly known as the UN Climate Change Conferences. Among the most well-known meetings occurred in Kyoto in 1997 and Paris in 2015. This year’s COP28 conference will be held in the United Arab Emirates on November 30 – December 12.
At these conferences, diplomats from nations around the world gather to negotiate climate change policy. Other entities, such as nongovernmental organizations (NGO) and intergovernmental organizations (IGO), can participate as official observers. Austin College recently applied to become an official observer at the United Nations COP conferences.
Austin College Climate Ambassadors
Selected students will attend this conference as Austin College Climate Ambassadors. AC Climate Ambassadors will have a diverse set of backgrounds and academic experience, composing a well-rounded team to represent Austin College on the world stage.
Austin College Climate Ambassadors will be expected to
- Commit to being an AC Climate Ambassador for the full 2023-24 academic year,
- Enroll in an upper-level seminar course in fall 2023,
- Develop expertise in a specific area of climate interest relevant to COP28,
- Investigate conference proceedings on that topic, providing in-depth analysis from multiple perspectives,
- Attend UN COP28 in the United Arab Emirates for one week,
- Represent Austin College with humility, respect, integrity, and cultural awareness,
- Communicate climate issues and policy negotiations via multiple media platforms and public presentations before, during, and after the conference, and
- Enhance campus and public awareness beyond the fall semester, perhaps through on-campus events, visits to city councils, and guest appearances at high schools throughout the state of Texas.
The Austin College Climate Ambassador program is open to any major. Students will be selected through a rigorous application and interview process. The initial application can be found below. Students advancing to the next round will be interviewed by a panel of faculty and staff.
- March 28: Information Session, 12:00-1:00 p.m., IC 127
- April 11: Application Due
- April 17: Interviews Begin
- May 1: Final Selection
To apply, fill out the official application.
Austin College will cover most travel, housing, and food costs. Students are expected to contribute $500 through a course fee. Additional out-of-pocket student expenses may include passports, vaccinations, clothing, and incidentals during travel.
Fall Seminar Course
GS 450 United Nations Climate Change Conference. Credit: 1.0
MW, 7:00 – 8:30 p.m. This evening meeting time will not conflict with normal course schedules.
This seminar course explores science and policy of climate change with an emphasis on the United Nations (UN) Climate Change Conference. Course topics may include current climate change; future climate projections; climate policies for mitigation, adaptation, and loss and damage; the UN climate framework; history of UN climate conferences; international negotiations; and key issues in 2023. Students will participate as official observers at the 28th UN Climate Change Conference (COP28) in the United Arab Emirates. They will analyze negotiations and report on decision-making at the conference. Students will share their first-hand observations and disseminate promising climate solutions with campus, local, and regional communities.
This course is open to any major. Instructor permission is required. Students will be selected by a competitive application and interview process. This course counts as an Applied Learning experience.
Course fee: $500
COP28 will span a two-week period. The Austin College delegation will attend in two groups: Week 1 (November 29 – December 6) and Week 2 (December 6 – 13). For both groups, travel will occur during the fall semester final exam week. The exact travel dates are subject to change based on flight times and UN adjustments to the conference schedule.
A passport valid for at least six months past the travel date will be required. Since the UN will request passport information in July, any participant in need of a valid passport should apply for one by May 15 with expedited processing.
Participants must be fully vaccinated following guidelines established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Please refer to the CDC website for travel to United Arab Emirates for up-to-date vaccination recommendations. These recommendations include an updated booster for COVID-19.
Please contact Dr. David Baker for more information about the AC Climate Ambassadors program.