Can students be prepared for future careers in business if they are not also prepared for the impact of climate change on the global economy? Probably not, believe faculty at Aston University in the United Kingdom. That’s why, last November, the school hosted its first Carbon Week. During the five-day event, faculty taught electives to the school’s 1,400 second-year undergraduates—including 150 from business—on topics related to the challenges of climate change and a low-carbon economy.
In addition to the week’s curriculum, the school scheduled workshops, activities, and presentations. Journalist Clive Myrie, for example, spoke about reporting on climate change stories, and climate change consultant Kirsty Lewis outlined the scientific evidence that has emerged on the topic. Students were assigned to ten-person interdisciplinary teams that collectively decided which courses and events each member would attend so they could share what they learned with those who had attended other options. The teams also worked on projects that addressed the challenges of a low-carbon future.
Carbon Week was meant to enhance students’ awareness of climate change’s economic, social, and environmental consequences, as well as emphasize the importance of immediate action. For its part, Aston is working to reduce its own emissions 53 percent by 2020, from its 2005-2006 levels. It has asked members of its community to volunteer as Green Champions, who encourage practices such as riding bikes to campus and shutting down electrical equipment when it’s not in use. Aston also has a Live Energy Dashboard on its site, which live-streams real-time energy use data for campus buildings, including Aston Business School.