New UVic program strives to make students climate change solution leaders

Victoria University will welcome students in September to a program it says is a first-of-its-kind in Canada that aims to equip the next generation with the skills they need to tackle the climate crisis.

UVic’s new Coastal Climate Solutions Leaders program will be open to master’s and doctoral students, as well as postdoctoral fellows. It will link science, engineering, social sciences and business as it provides training on climate change, its impacts and mitigation and adaptation solutions.

The world will need climate activists to help drive climate change mitigation and adaptation as governments seek to stem rising temperatures, the university said in a news release. It added that tens of thousands of climate-related jobs are expected to be created in British Columbia this decade.

“Tomorrow’s climate leaders will need a broad understanding of the climate crisis, including on-the-ground challenges and opportunities to accelerate solutions,” Julia Baum, professor of biology at the University of Victoria, said in a news release.

“Our new program redefines the way we train students, immersing them in a highly interdisciplinary workforce of trainees and working alongside those working to solve the climate crisis so they understand the complexities of this challenge , and develop the broad systems thinking needed to deal with it.”

Trainees will be supervised by over 40 UVic climate researchers from 19 different departments. Their work will focus on various aspects of coastal climate solutions, including topics such as marine renewable energy, green financing and coastal adaptation strategies.

The initiative will also involve more than 35 partners from all levels of Canadian government, industry groups, non-profit organizations and North American think tanks.

“Every job is a climate job,” Baum said. “I think our government realizes that, they understand they need a workforce that can meet the challenges of climate change, and we don’t have a skilled workforce. This program will help contribute to that.”

The new project was supported by a grant of CAD 1.65 million from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada and a grant of CAD 1.15 million from the University.

“UVic is fast becoming known as Canada’s climate university, and this transformative new program will help prepare future generations of leaders to meet these complex challenges,” said Lisa Kalynchuk, UVic vice president of research and innovation.

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