UWE Bristol students first in UK to study climate change course

Adam Edwards and Harry O’Higgins Credit: UWE Bristol

A Bristol university is the first in the UK to introduce a free course on climate change.

Two undergraduates at the University of the West of England (UWE) in Stoke Gifford have been campaigning for climate change education to become mandatory in universities.

Adam Edwards and Harry O’Higgins argue that every student should have climate education as part of their university experience.

Harry who studied accounting and finance said the climate emergency "demands a full, detailed education that everyone should have access to".

The online programme was developed by Harry and Adam alongside academic staff, professional services staff and members of the Students Union.

UWE Bristol is focusing on a sustainable future.

Delivered in nine one-hour units, the course will help UWE students understand the climate crisis, its causes and consequences, and what they can do to mitigate emissions.

Adam who is studying for a master’s degree in financial technology said: "This course is not just climate literacy. We hope it will inspire students to become agents of change because this is an issue where everything is on the line."

Until now, modules in climate change have been limited to courses like environmental sciences, geography, politics, wildlife ecology and conservation science in UK universities.

If the programme's pilot year is successful, it could be developed as a full module for the 2024-25 academic year which would offer 10 credits towards students’ final degree. It could also become available to members of the public.

Outside student accommodation at UWE Bristol Credit: BPM

Professor Sir Steve West, vice-chancellor at UWE Bristol, said: “Climate change is real and it’s with us now - we’re already starting to see profound impacts on our biodiversity, our climate and on humanity. Now is the time to act and we need to do this in a purposeful way.”

Professor Jim Longhurst, UWE Bristol’s assistant vice-chancellor for environment and sustainability, added: "UWE Bristol’s students will live their life course in a time of profound climate and environmental change.

"Students increasingly expect that their higher education experience will prepare them for the challenges that they will encounter in their life course, and to help them cope with rising levels of anxiety about the climate crisis."