How to change society in order to combat climate change can now be studied at AUT.
A new Climate Action course is being introduced together with a reshaped Bachelor of Arts, organised around the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
“Climate change is a grand challenge for the next few decades,” says Senior Lecturer David Hall, who is leading the course.
“We know a lot about the science of climate change, but how do we motivate people? What are the political and economic barriers to driving action, even when people agree that we need to do the right thing? Climate Action will address these issues.”
The new course aligns with Goal 13 of the United Nations SDGs, of the same name.
Students studying AUT’s Bachelor of Arts from next year will gain a solid foundation of knowledge, skills and applied learning as they choose from a wide range of courses that align with the SDGs.
Dr Hall says one key way to make progress with climate action is to understand that our institutions are not well set up to manage big structural transitions.
"So, it is really critical to take a systems approach and to recognise that there is no one particular solution in one particular place — but there is a myriad of solutions. We really must pull a multitude of levers in order to drive change.”
The way that we understand and talk about these problems is also important, he says.
“Never underestimate the value of story and narrative. Changing our understanding of what is possible is one of the biggest levers for change of all.
“Up until now we have often talked about climate action in terms of its costs in the present. But the future costs of climate change completely outweigh this. In fact, taking action on climate change will itself generate a lot of economic activity. You are not just making sacrifices on behalf of the future, you are actually creating new opportunities and benefits.”
Dr Hall says he is hopeful for our climate’s future.
“We are starting to see much more change in technology, policy and mindsets, all of which lays the foundations for further change. It’s really a matter of accelerating the trends that are already underway and making sure that the inevitable happens sooner rather than later.”
The course can be taken as part of the Diploma in Arts and the Bachelor of Arts, and as part of its conjoint degrees with the Bachelor of Business or the Bachelor of Computer and Information Sciences.
In November, the University released its inaugural Sustainability Report, which documents progress and highlights key achievements its commitment to build a greener and more sustainable future.