Importance of climate change to masters students

Safeguarding the future of the planet is one of the pressing issues of our time. It effects all of us, yet seems beyond our individual control. However, there are multiple decisions we can take that can individually contribute to the goal of net zero. This article discusses the importance of climate change to masters students.

In general, many people believe that influencing climate change is in the hands of government emission targets and climate summits. How can a person lower their carbon footprint when global CO2 levels are so high? In fact individual actions make an enormous difference to our immediate surroundings.

Like issues around public health has seen universities invest in research and teaching in these areas, universities are focusing on climate change research. If you are passionate about climate change and considering a masters in this field, read on. 

Awareness of climate change issues and how it affects masters students

Climate action is a burning issue on campus. Surveys conducted by the University of Bath, Sheffield and Winchester are among many publicly acknowledging the importance of teaching climate change on campus.

Universities have a responsibility to set an example when it comes to zero carbon. In fact, recent surveys show some students will make decisions on which university to choose based on their commitment to sustainability.

Many universities recognise their obligations to cut carbon. They sign up to international standards such as the UN’s Sustainability Development Goals. These influence the carbon footprint of university operations, as well as the research focus, and the teaching programmes offered. Carbon Literacy is now part of all new student inductions at the University of Bath.

Education provides the tools for influencing future decisions based on evidence. Progress comes through challenging the prevailing narrative with new innovations.

Types of masters course in climate change (MSc in Climate Change)

New masters degree programmes are available in climate science and zero carbon futures. They are recruiting students now. In addition to these climate change courses, universities are updating their established engineering and environmental sciences programmes to tackle this important subject.

Universities with strong foundations in engineering science such as Plymouth offer a number of programmes that reach across different study areas. They recognise the importance of climate change to masters students.

The advantage of this approach is that students can find courses that build on existing skills in different specialities. Traditional engineering is mixed in with data analytics. Traditional geology will also include elements of teaching practice.

Mixing together modules from different faculties offers the student a more versatile programme. Students enrol from different backgrounds and bring individual skills and experiences.

Possible careers related to tackling climate change

Top UK universities recognise the issue. The University of Cambridge understand the importance of climate change to masters students. They saw the opportunity to leave the politics to one side and focus on green jobs. In late 2021, Cambridge launched an initiative through a series of films that show how students can forge careers in exciting new green areas.

With this in mind, research into new materials with applications for green energy are growing daily. Here are just four topics that universities are helping solve: -

  • Alternatives to rare earth minerals used to manufacture batteries
  • The production of super-efficient solar cells
  • Manufacturing enzymes that eat plastic waste, and
  • The holy grail of clean energy through nuclear fusion technology

While examples such as these require world leading research and development skills in science and technology, they all rely on business brilliance to bring these innovations to market.

A few years ago, the idea of a disaster recovery plan or corporate social responsibility policy was limited to major corporations. Without doubt these protocols are now mainstream. So too is the importance of net zero to a successful business.

One area with a lot of potential is management consultancy. This builds on students' undergraduate qualifications in maths, science and engineering, but also economics, business management, product design, psychology and computing.

Many companies are seeking graduates to fill leadership roles for implementing zero carbon protocols.

How to be a net zero hero while you study and beyond!

  • Eat green

Almost all food waste is biodegradable, so always recycle your leftovers and food scraps rather than send it to landfill. Preparing fresh food rather than pre packed meals is better for your health as well as removing unnecessary plastic waste. Food inflation is a big issue of course but preparing your weekly meals rather than reaching for your phone to get a delivery has to be kinder to the planet.

  • Reduce, Re-use, Recycle

It goes without saying that all items that can be recycled should be. Repairing and maintaining products rather than unnecessary tech upgrades is the way to a sustainable future.

  • Use less energy

Many of us have had to cut back on energy in recent times. While this can be a step too far for some, its best for the planet – and our wallets – to feel the temporary discomfort from cutting back on gas and electricity.

  • Active Travel

Walk, stroll, jog and cycle. Keep car trips to a minimum and use for long journeys rather than short, fuel-hungry trips.

  • Make Space for Nature

Open space is precious, and all wildlife within it needs proper conservation. Make time to seek out the outdoors whenever possible. This will do wonders for your mental health.

  • Grow your own

Not a mad as it seems. Herbs provide much needed flavour and are better for you than salt and sugar. Even the smallest corner of regular sunlight can be an idea spot for some green fingered activity!

  • Fuel Efficient Vehicles

Any public transport is better than petrol cars, and if you’re are in the lucky position to be able to buy your own vehicle, switch to a fuel efficient one. Newer cars can be more expensive, but you will accrue more savings over time on fuel costs.

Final thoughts

The importance of climate change to masters students is evident from the number of courses and job opportunities. All UK universities are deeply committed to Net Zero. What’s more, those with the research and teaching facilities to offer climate change masters degrees are very popular.

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