As part of the University of Maryland’s (UMD) 2016 Earth Day program, the student-based group, TERP Climate, hosted a forum designed to raise awareness and educate attendees on climate change.
The 4-hour event, which catered to students and faculty members alike, featured a range of both UMD and outside experts who discussed various aspects of climate change.
Although its primary mission is to encourage multidisciplinary discussion about climate change, TERP Climate also emphasizes climate change solutions, including those from the policy, economic and social side.
“Climate change is much more than just science,” said Lynn Montgomery, a senior Atmospheric and Oceanic Science major at the university and one of the co-founders of TERP Climate. “I think it’s important to just be able to get all aspects because [climate change] is going to affect everybody, it’s going to affect all positions and we’re all part of the solution if we can pull together and find something.”
Six speakers gave roughly 15 minute presentations and answered student questions during the event. The speakers included Dr. Christina Prell, a UMD assistant professor of sociology, Dr. Klaus Hubacek, an ecological economist and a professor in the UMD Department of Geographical Sciences, Dr. Hilen Meirovich, the climate change lead specialist at the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), Dr. Melissa Kenney, a research assistant professor at the UMD Earth System Science Interdisciplinary Center (ESSIC), Dr. Matthew Hansen, a remote sensing scientist and professor in the UMD Department of Geographical Sciences, and Dr. Diana Russell, a senior social scientist in the Office of Forestry and Biodiversity in the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
“I think [events like] this should be done more often,” said Prell as she took to the podium as the first speaker of the day. “Students leading and moderating research conferences.”
According to Kelsey Malloy, a junior Atmospheric and Oceanic Science major at the university and the other co-founder of TERP Climate, the group wanted to invite a diverse group of experts so that multiple viewpoints could be presented.
“We kind of just wanted a broad range,” she said.
Last December, TERP Climate conducted a student forum, an event that encouraged discussion but, according to Montgomery, didn’t lead to many answers, as there were no experienced professionals to give input. This time, the student group let the experts do the talking.
“The problem we had with our student forum is that we weren’t experts yet,” said Malloy. “So anything we said was just a perspective.”
The student leaders also wanted to provide some information to students in the wake of the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris.
“Kind of going off the Paris talks that happened in December … we thought what better way to educate students than to have … an education based event so that they could learn more about climate change before climate action.”
As he began his talk, Hansen expressed gratitude toward the students who had put together such a successful Earth Day event.
“Thanks for talking the initiative to build awareness on this important day,” he said.